After having to contend with two weeks of a solid 20 to 30-knot southerly wind and big swells, we finally had a week of good weather in early May.
This resulted in excellent catches of jewfish, mackerel and tuna before yet another onslaught of strong wind and 5m swells once again battered the coast.
I was starting to think that, thanks to the weather, May was going to be a washout for tuna along the Iluka wall, but we did get that one last window for a fish.
Luckily my good friends HT, Milly, Gary, Hank and Bill managed to hit the window on their last trip to Iluka for the season.
While the crew managed to get a couple of tuna from the wall on live garfish, it was their exploits with the local jewfish population that really stood out, with them landing fish from the breakwall, Main Beach and inside the river to boot.
Using a combination of lures and squid bait during their brief three-day stay, they landed over a dozen fish of varying sizes, with all but one being released to fight another day.
The winter run of jewfish in the coastal rivers of northern NSW is in full swing, with large schools of these beautiful creatures moving into the rivers to gorge themselves on the vast schools of flat tail mullet that come down each winter.
I may sound like a cracked record, however the number one thing to remember is stealth – no flashing torches, no car headlights, no clanging anchors, just stealth.
Every fish we hook inside the river is hooked within 20m of us and the vast majority are hooked in no more than 2-3m of water.
At night, trust me, you need to learn to listen because the jewfish will let you know where they are in slack water – they smash into the poor old mullet, which sounds a lot like someone smacking a paddle on the water.
I always fish my live bait unweighted, even in a hard-running tide, and give them no more than the down of my rod before setting the hook.
I never feed them line off my spool before striking and I sure don’t hold with the old wives’ tale of waiting for the second run, which usually never happens.
Both the first and second bluffs have produced nice fish on hard-bodied lures and big soft plastics, while the beach along Shark Bay had fish to 18kg taken by anglers fishing for tailor with stripped flesh bait, such as bonito and mullet.
Even boats fishing the reefs up at Black Rocks had success in the jewfish stakes, so they are spread far and wide, and this trend should continue throughout winter.
Finally, tailor are being taken consistently, which is great to see.
Most of the beaches and headlands are all providing anglers with a feed of fish ranging in size from 1-5kg, with most of the fish being healthy and in prime condition.
Inside the river, a handful of luderick were taken at the old ferry approach on black weed, but it’s still a tad early for decent numbers, with July and August being the best months by far.
A feed of flathead is available year-round by using soft plastic lures or a white pillie in the shallow gutters along the beaches or along the weed beds and drop-offs inside the rivers.
The local bream population has started to put on a bit of condition after a long dry summer, and the next three months should see some honking fish landed, particularly from the beaches.
The offshore crew have finally put their mackerel gear away until next summer and are now targeting big snapper, jew and teraglin, which are the staple offshore species in this neck of the woods.
So, the lower reaches of our rivers will be jew central for the next three months, barring any heavy rain, and all you need to do is find the bait and the jew will do the rest.
Hopefully the current run of tailor continues through winter along the beaches.
As long as you can put up with the cold, a feed of jew, bream, tailor and luderick shouldn’t be too hard to achieve.
Who knows, I might even turn a handle… if I can tear myself away from the lounge and TV.
Until next month, safe fishing.