Clarence River bass habitat under threat from wakeboats

PRIME bass habitat and critical fish migration staging posts are under threat from more than 100 interstate wakeboats, according to a Clarence River resident.

Despite being labelled "high erosion potential" in a council-commissioned riverbank vulnerability assessment, the river above Grafton from Moleville Rocks to Rogans Bridge is set to be reopened to wave-generating wakeboats from September 1 - ironically, at the beginning of a new bass season.

"Local and visiting anglers should be angry that their boat registration money is subsidising Queensland wakeboaters to trash prime bass habitat," said the resident, who feared what could happen if his name were published.

"When I came here about 10 years ago there were extensive weed and reed beds, which now have gone.

"The 2013 floods tore massive slumps in the bank, some going back 50m, and even broke the back of the Punt Lane boat ramp.

"Now, what has been classified as an erosion-prone, no-wake zone is to be opened up and the chief beneficiaries are Queensland wakeboat owners who have been kicked off their home waters."

The resident said unofficial surveys since 2013 revealed that up to 130 wakeboats, 83% of which were Queensland-registered, used the river with near- impunity.

The interstate owners paid no NSW registration or licence fees and contributed little to the local economy, he said.

The existing designated wakeboat zone is from Moleville Rocks to downstream of Junction Hill and boats are required to stay in the middle of the river.

But local RMS officers were practically powerless to enforce boating regulations because they did not have the resources to prosecute cases against Queensland boaters, the resident said.

A month ago, the NSW Maritime Management Centre released a recommendation that from September 1, wakeboats can enter the section upstream to Rogans Bridge, providing they are not "slow towing".


Clear water

CRYSTAL-clear water in the ocean and lower estuaries has made the fish a bit shy at times, with best results coming early and late in the day and when it's cloudy.

There are still plenty of bream and luderick in the Richmond and some nice mulloway, with one fish around 26kg caught behind the Ballina CBD this week.

Flathead seem to be moving downriver a little and there have even been some whiting caught.

On the beaches, try for bream and tailor.

Offshore looks to be a bit joggly this weekend although there could be some snapper, teraglin and scattered jackets.

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