PICTURE PERFECT: A fisherman silhouetted against the sunset
PICTURE PERFECT: A fisherman silhouetted against the sunset

Conditions pick up for offshore catches

CALMER seas and pleasant weather saw some top-notch catches from offshore, while in the estuaries, although there are plenty of bream on the bite, the average size has dropped off.

Talk around the traps is the blackfish are quieter but moving further upstream around Collis's and into the back channels. Meanwhile, there is still plenty of flathead on the bite right throughout the system.

Competitors in the recent snapper competition out of Wooli will be wishing the outings could have been postponed, for good-size fish are being taken on both the northern and southern grounds.

Biggest weighed in was taken off Minnie Water, a fish of 7.950kg caught by local George Smith who used blue pilchards for bait. Luke Dooley from Highfield was not far behind with a fish of 4.775kg.

Another Highfield resident Andrew Hasted scored one of 3.800kg and Gavin Potter from Coolum Beach in Queensland improved on that with a fish of 5.250kg, both on mullet.

On the northern grounds, out from Black Rock, Lionel Gents of Inverell brought in one of 5.500kg. Others who did well on the same outing were Ken Dowley of Tabulum who weighed in the biggest jewfish of 11.500kg and Josh Gorton from Tabulum a teraglin of 2.600kg.

The only other jewfish weighed in was one of 4.800kg taken by Keaton Rheinbeger at the Rheinbergers' favourite site at Lovers Point.

Rock hoppers were also able to take advantage of the more favourable conditions and targeted groper. Tahlija Redyard of Yamba fished at Spookies (near Angourie) for a fish of 6.800kg on cungevoi bait, while Nat Sewell of Grafton used a crab bait for his catch of 5.570kg at Wooli.

Despite the recent run of good-size bream in recent weeks, the largest weighed in was the 656g catch by Shane Walker of Gulmarrad who fished at Maclean. Shane's catch might not seem big, but to oldies like me who still think in the old scales, it would have weighed in at over one pound. Nathan Walker, also of Maclean, fished the local waters for fish just under the 500g mark.

Although whiting are very slow at the moment, the occasional one is being picked up on popper lure, like the 334g fish taken by Jamie Gordon of Yamba who fished Palmers Channel.

The warmer weather is also seeing a few larger flathead on the move, especially in the lower reaches. Noel Johnson of Gulmarrad found the area around Palmers Island the most rewarding with a fish of 2.586kg on a plastic lure in Palmers Channel and then a few days later from the bank at Palmers Island a fish of 2.325kg.

As well as his bream catch, Shane Hawker also scored a flathead of 1.252kg at Maclean. Trish Hunter of Yamba, on an offshore trip, landed a flathead of 1.445kg.

Rock hoppers are also finding tailor in the white washes around the headlands, with Greg Causley of Palmers Channel weighing in one of 3.400kg from the Iluka Beach. John Causley also showed me one of his best catches, a fish we estimated at close to 3.000kg.

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