River fisheries need our constant care

IT'S amazing what a difference a month or so without rain can make to the Richmond River and inshore waters.

Suddenly you can see the bottom in close to the bank in some places and there have been times when those drifting along in the shallows have seen some rather startled flathead dashing off and leaving puffs of sand in their wakes.

The cool evenings mean that away from the influence of the 19-degree ocean, the river water is still rather nippy.

Flathead, in particular, often seek out warmer shallows or banks of dark mud where they can raise their metabolisms enough to give them that extra edge in their lunges at passing baitfish and prawns.

There have been a few decent flatties around, with quite a proportion over the legal 36cm and a smattering of big females to about 80cm.

Remember, you are legally permitted to keep only one flathead over 70cm but you must also keep in mind that these fish are inevitably female and carry the future of the flathead fishery in the Richmond River.

Not too many years ago the river bottom was virtually carpeted with flatties but, probably more than any species, they have felt the brunt of increased recreational fishing pressure, especially on breeding females, combined with reduced amounts of feed due to deteriorating water quality.

You can hold whatever views you like about professional river fishers, but the fact remains that the commercial effort on flatties has hardly increased in that time.

The proliferation of soft plastics - and now metal vibrating blades - has made inroads into the local flathead, bream and jewfish populations at a time when declining water quality is reducing effective habitat.

That means everyone needs to limit their catch and to ensure that fish that are released are done so in the healthiest condition possible - we need every one of them.

And although the river looks nice again now, nobody should forget what it was like a few months ago, nor should we ever forget how many tonnes of fish were needlessly killed by our mismanagement and neglect only 18 months ago.

We've so far done nothing to ensure it won't happen again and we have to.

Sunday looks at this stage like supplying the most favourable fishing weather, with slight seas and not a great deal of wind.

But we can expect some onshore winds to pop up late morning, just as the tide begins to ebb, so it will pay to be up early and get home early for best results.

Club notes

CASINO RSM Social Fishing Club will hold an open outing starting today at 5pm and ending on Sunday at 5pm, weigh-in at Toby Allen at 5pm. All members and new members welcome. Inquiries to 66624035.

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