BREAMING SMILE: Youngsters wanting to learn how to wet a line can attend a free NSW DPI Fisheries fishing event at Tenterfield Dam tomorrow. The event is open to all ages, not just the kids.
BREAMING SMILE: Youngsters wanting to learn how to wet a line can attend a free NSW DPI Fisheries fishing event at Tenterfield Dam tomorrow. The event is open to all ages, not just the kids.

Real threat of more fish kills on the Richmond River

BEFORE European settlement, most flooded coastal wetlands would have drained over 100 days. Now floodplains drain over seven days, dramatically increasing impact on waterways, according to OzFish Unlimited CEO Craig Copeland.

Copeland and other members of OzFish have joined with fisheries, local and state government employees to monitor and assess recent fish kills on the Richmond River.

So far significant-to-serious fish kills have occurred at Woodburn, North Creek, Prospect Lake, Chickiba Lake and Emigrant Creek, with the real threat of more to come as backed-up farm drains continue to spew oxygen-stripping blackwater into the river.

The council used a front-end loader to take away the carnage in the lakes, including some big mangrove jack and GTs.

Great knots of dead bloodworms, asphyxiated in their muddy burrows, have been washed down from Broadwater to the mouth.

Observers say the preponderance of juvenile fish among the dead indicates the level of productivity generated in the river from minimal run-off through three years of drought.

It goes to show that the river can still sustain life if the deadly run-off can be filtered and buffered.

“There were dead juvenile prawns on the surface everywhere and dead juvenile fish mostly (8cm and less) scattered every metre or so throughout the system,” Copeland said of the North Creek kill.

“Many of these (juveniles) were bream. Also some year-old whiting, bass and bream.”

As I said last week, North Creek until recently used to flood clean and remained a refuge for fish escaping the worst of the siltation and poor water in the main river. Those responsible for the change should be decorated with necklaces of decaying fish and marched through Ballina for all to see.

Locals can only take the tiniest consolation from the fact that the Richmond kills aren’t at this stage as bad as those on the Macleay River and further south in Wallis Lake, both of which suffered far worse doses of bushfire ash run-off.

Ours is more systemic.

Cleaner water

MULLOWAY, bream, flathead, whiting and blackfish remain available around the entrance to the river and along the beaches.

With the new moon on Monday, the run-up spring tides should provide the best of the fishing as a bit of cleaner water pushes into the river mouths.

When the tide turns and a new pulse of filthy stuff comes spewing down, it’s time to pack up and go home.

Marlin mayhem

THE Gold Coast is having the most red-hot season on juvenile black marlin that anyone can remember, with some of the really old hands speaking of the action in the same tones as what happened in the 1980s off Cape Bowling Green in North Queensland.

Two-year-old “baby blacks” from 30kg to 100kg have been abundant, with ridiculous numbers of fish encountered.

One boat, French Look, tagged and released 14 last Saturday, 13 on Sunday and an amazing 33 on Monday for a ridiculous total of 60 fish in three days.

On Monday two boats each tagged 21 fish from 26 strikes, indicating not just how may fish are around but also how hungry they are.

Whether it’s in the rivers or offshore, keep a proper lookout when boating this weekend.

There’s a lot of timber coming down the rivers and heading seawards.

Some of it might wreck your prop if you hit it, while others could well wreck your boat and even your life.

Tenterfield freebie

NSW DPI Fisheries will hold a free community fishing event at Tenterfield Dam tomorrow, from 9am to 2pm.

There’s no need to register for the event, just come along and join in. Families and kids are welcome.

You’ll learn the latest tips and tricks and enjoy a fun-filled family day out.

There will be fishing workshops for kids and adults, casting comps, fly casting lessons and some great giveaways.

Call 0419 662 508 or email roger.cupples@dpi.nsw.gov.au for more information.