It was back to work in February so there was little time for fishing. In March the hot days continued with no sign of autumn on the horizon. The usual wind pattern was a light south easterly or south westerly in the morning, turning around to a strong northerly in the afternoon. The water stayed pretty warm.
The Brunswick River was crystal clear. In the transparent warm water, I resorted to casting out almost unweighted 3 inch minnow soft plastics on very light 6lb leader, in order to entice the bream to bite. I caught a few keepers this way but I lost plenty of soft plastics to either bigger bream, cod or perhaps mangrove jacks. There were a few flathead around but most were about 30cm to 40 cm long, so I released them.
There was about a week of heavy rain later in the month. The water running off the surrounding swamps turned the Brunswick River brown for all but an hour around high tide. This increase in fresh water in the system changed things and I had a few sessions where all I caught were grunter bream. I caught them all on 3 inch soft plastics, using a 10lb fluorocarbon leader. They were mostly too small to keep, but one or two were close to 35 cm.
So there were plenty of fish in March and the river had plenty of bait but there were not many big enough for supper.
By November summer was truly upon us and the water temperatures had risen significantly. Typical wind pattern was little or no breeze on dawn and a building north-easterly during the day. On the beaches between Wooyung and the north wall of the Brunswick River I caught a few dart, flathead and the occasional monster whiting. In the surf the big whiting are often happy to attack a 4 inch minnow soft plastic, just at the point where the wave rolls over. I have been using a Daiwa Crossfire 8’6” rod which has a pretty fast action matched with Shimano Stradic 4000 reel, 12lb braid and 12lb fluorocarbon leader in the surf. This rig will land a determined dart or bream, as long as there are no rocks around. It is also light enough to flick a soft plastic lure a fair distance.
There was some big surf around so I focused on getting to know the Brunswick River. Fishing the quieter spots mid-week produce the best catches and the trusty 3” and 4” Gulp Minnow soft plastics in the Pearl Watermelon colour worked very well. I had a couple of quick bust offs that could have been mangrove jacks, but who knows. The bait schools were thick all along the shore line and mangrove jacks love to hunt on still humid afternoons. To catch the bream I had to fish with a light leader, usually 10lb fluorocarbon. I found a few and even wrestled a cod out form under a rock during one session.
In October I could not find anything much on the beaches and was still only catching tiny flathead in Mooball Creek. I had a couple of sessions fishing on the Brunswick River rock wall at Northhead, where I dropped a couple of small chopper tailor when fishing with a Gulp Jerkshad.
In desperation I drove down to fish the mouth of the Richmond River at Ballina. Things looked more promising here and I caught a few good-sized bream on the inside of the north wall. I was using 3”and 4” Gulp minnow soft plastics in my favourite Pearl Watermelon colour. I also watched a large flock of cormorants herd a school of baitfish into the shallows and then feast on them.
September saw my first serious explorations of the coast around the Brunswick River mouth in Northern New South Wales. The river itself holds plenty of fish but it is a very busy recreational spot so at the weekends it is hard to find an undisturbed stretch to fish. I managed to find a few small flathead and bream amongst the oyster leases near where the Pacific Highway Bridge crosses the river. In the run up to the new moon there were large schools of mullet and bream in the marine sanctuary areas near town. Unfortunately, I saw people fishing for them even though this is a no – take zone. Perhaps clearer signage is needed.
When the water was very clear in the main branch of the river I was dropping down to 8lb fluorocarbon leader to persuade the bream to bite. Every now and then my soft plastic would be grabbed and pulled under a ledge by what I think was most likely and estuary cod.
I also tried fishing around the rocks the rocks on the beach at Wooyung and had a few sessions in Mooball Creek. I caught small flathead on soft plastics in both these locations but virtually none were big enough to keep.