Chuck bucket aside, fishing is as good as it gets

A CRISP, light westerly at your back to help drive your lure towards the rising sun and a big bust-up of tailor within easy casting distance - what more could you want?

Maybe light winds, calm seas and a rising tide around sunrise and sunset - check.

Perhaps not too hot during the day so it's pleasant to stay out a bit longer? Yep.

And plenty of active fish in the estuaries and on the beaches and inshore reefs. Snap!

I usually reach for the chuck bucket when I hear some hooked-up TV muppet blurt to the camera "It doesn't get any better than this!" but at the moment it's hard to see how local fishing conditions could improve a great deal.

Those tailor are in good numbers in the surf gutters from the Clarence to the Tweed although finding your preferred size can be a lottery.

There are plenty of sub-legal (30cm) choppers but enough schools of 700g keepers to ensure a feed.

And this is my favourite time of year to bag a 4kg-plus greenback, especially in the dark on a slab of bonito or frigate mackerel.

Remember, the tailor bag limit is 10 (with a 20 possess- ion limit) and unless they're iced down pretty smartly, the flesh can turn into an inedible slurry.

But look after them by bleeding them and keeping them as chilled as possible and they're a tasty catch.

Another cool-weather fish worth looking after is also on the bite. Luderick are moving into the lower estuaries and taking cabbage or weed baits drifted along the rock walls.

Bream are gathering for spawning in the lower rivers, too, with a smattering of travelling fish on the beaches as well.

Brett at Ballina Bait and Tackle says there are still a few whiting in North Creek with flathead above Burns Point ferry but go as far as Wardell and you'll enter the lair of the dreaded "dogfish" or forktail catfish.

Offshore, there are still good numbers of mackerel about, especially a late run of school-size spotties.

Snapper just either side of the 30cm legal size are starting to bunch up a little over the closer reefs and there's the odd big bumpy-headed job as well.

Rat kings and amberjack have been caught out on the 48-fathom reefs, Brett says, but the southbound current has been a bit of a pest.

In closer it's starting to run uphill and there's a finger of cooler water heading our way.

Two-stroke to die

THE FEDERAL Government appears to have signed the death warrant of the naturally aspirated two- stroke outboard, with the execution to take place next year.

In the document "Emission Standards for Non-road Spark Ignition Engines and Equipment", Environment Minister Greg Hunt has deemed carburetted two-strokes to be likely non-compliant under new standards based on those of the US EPA and equivalent international bodies.

"Conventional two-stroke outboards and non-handheld equipment such as mowers would not meet the new standards," the document says. "In general, four-stroke and direct-injection two- stroke engines will meet the standards."

Four-stroke and DI two-stroke technology has largely matched conventional two-strokes except in two major horsepower divisions: the 90hp three-cylinder two-stroke is far lighter than four-stroke competitors, while for lightweight dinghies needing 8hp-20hp, the two-stroke remains far lighter and more punchy. The law is likely to be enforced from 2017.

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