If the swell drops, head for the lower estuaries or beaches

WELCOME to the new bass season.

It's extremely rare that early-season bassaholics are welcomed by high brown water dotted with logs and flood debris, but that's what we have this year on the Richmond and its lower tributaries.

This is probably a better weekend to have a crack at what's on offer in the lower estuaries or from the beaches if the swell drops enough, but if you simply have to chase a bass, it's anybody's guess where they'll be.

Some think they mightn't have moved far from where they were before the fresh. I'm tipping they will have used the rise to head upstream.

Thanks to the runoff, there should be plenty of food for them, mostly terrestrial insects, spiders, worms and the like.

There should be fish around the drain mouths, especially where pH and oxygen are OK.

While most anglers have sophisticated sonar, very few have any way of testing water quality.

In a river like the Richmond, what comes out of the drains can vary wildly, from sweet water rich with life through to oxygen-depleted stuff that's like battery acid.

If you keep bass rather than catch and release, there is a bag limit of two bass or estuary perch, or a combination. Only one can be over 35cm in rivers.

Clearing up

DOWNSTREAM, there's more clear oceanic water entering the river on every high tide.

Brett at Ballina Bait and Tackle says the clean water has been up as far as the RSL Club in recent days and fishos have had moderate success with a few smaller school mulloway and some respectable bream on the breakwalls.

Blackfish have been taking yabbies in the dirty water but it shouldn't be too long before they're back eating weed.

If the sea goes down enough, it could be worth trying the sheltered corners with mullet chunks and pillies for bream and school mulloway.

Sadly, it looks like wind and swell over the weekend could be just a bit too big to allow safe passage through the bars or permit fishing from exposed ocean rocks.

The swell on Wednesday went from nearly zero to scary within just a few hours but it will take a lot longer to taper down.

Bonanza

DON'T forget the expanded North Coast Fishing Bonanza at Ballina, September 24-28.

This catch-and-photograph competition now runs three and a half days for fishing offshore, estuary, beach, rocks or in the public dams from the Tweed to the Clarence.

Major sponsors are Gamakatsu and Evinrude; HQ will be at Fawcett Park.

There'll be cash prizes for up to a dozen species in open, cadet and junior divisions and a whole bunch of big prize draws and random giveaways.

Opens enter for $120, cadets (13-16) $50, juniors $15, with family discounts.



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