There was no time for fishing in April but May and June saw me back down at my new HQ near Brunswick Heads on the Northern New South Wales coast. I am still finding my feet in this area so my sessions are often hit and miss. I still have not found any consistent spots where I can catch supper. Its almost as if there is too much choice – the beaches, the river or the rocks? I keep my ever expanding tackle supplies and a few rods in the boot of car and I am generally driven by the wind, swell and tides.
I fished the area near the mouth of the Brunswick River on a few evenings in the run up to the June full moon and I caught a few flathead on each occasion, but they were all around the 30 cm mark, so I released them. There must be plenty of fish around here as the dolphins are frequent visitors. The last hour of the run out tide was most successful.
On other days I put in the hours in the beach gutters to the south of New Brighton for pretty poor results. I was chucking a slug just pre-dawn and after dusk which was not very successful and then big plastics with light leaders, which did land the odd bream and small tailor, later in June.
I clambered down the cliff at Broken Head (south of Byron Bay) on a couple of afternoons, but the swell made fishing quite tricky. I persisted and ended up with some good sized dart on soft plastic minnows.
I am still working it out, another 50 years and I will have mastered it!
In December Brunswick Heads started to fill with holidaymakers and the river became much busier. I had found the beaches north of the river mouth pretty hard in the warmer weather. There were still dart and whiting around but they were very small. I tried fishing in the few areas of Simpsons Creek where it is allowed and caught a couple more flathead. The bait continued to multiply in the river and big schools of juvenile mullet started to appear. On a couple of hot days, I snorkeled around in Simpsons Creek and took a few photos of the food chain underwater.
Reflections – Brunswick River
Fishing with the small minnow soft plastics in natural colours worked best. Every now and then, the bait would fly in all directions as schools of small trevally moved through. Occasionally I would catch one but none were bigger than about 25cm long. Down at the river mouth I had some luck catching some better sized bream at the base of the rocks.
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.
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.