Drop in water temperature means even the fish feel the cold

IT FEELS like somebody left the fridge door open.

On second thoughts, it's probably warmer inside!

I must be getting soft. After a day's skiing, I used to head down to Lake Jindabyne to spin for a trout and by around dark, the sure sign it was time to go home was when the line began to freeze to the rod guides.

And a winter salmon session on the South Coast used to start with a barefoot dash across the frosty dunes to the 'warm' surf.

Fortunately, winter around here lasts only a few weeks but try telling that to yourself when the sun goes down and you can't feel the line running through your hands.

The fish can feel a cold change almost as much as we warm-blooded creatures do.

A sudden drop in water temp, triggered by frosty nights or icy runoff, can shut down many fish - at least until they get used to the new conditions.

Brett at Ballina Bait and Tackle thinks that might be going on in the rivers now, where he says things have been 'a little funny'.

It doesn't mean the fish haven't been biting at all; they have, but they mightn't be as active or as hungry as in recent weeks.

School flathead and mulloway in the middle reaches of the Richmond have been less active and and the water there quickly becomes colder than it does closer to the mouth.

The big spring tides are pushing 20-degree ocean water well into the lower estuaries, where luderick, bream and larger mulloway continue to feed actively.

Tailor, bream and a few travelling flathead are worthwhile targets from the beaches but the rising swell this weekend will make things very tough on the exposed coast.

Snapper remain in fair numbers over the close reefs but they, too, look safe for the moment with 20-knot winds and three-meter swells making river bars hazardous.

But as long as the prolific bait schools remain off the coast, there'll be some good inshore fishing when the conditions allow.

The voracious Australian salmon haven't showed up in any numbers yet, so they can't make inroads into the baitfish just yet.

Nor have the other southern invading pests, those chisel-toothed leatherjackets.

There's just the faintest trickle of slightly too-warm water from the north obstructing their push up the coast. Long may it be so.

Money fish

One tagged fish will be worth a million bucks and 75 others worth $10,000 each in a bid to get fishos up to the Top End during the next wet season.

Tourism NT's Million-Dollar Barra contest runs from October to February and participants must register online at http://www.milliondollarfish.com.au to compete.

If they get an early and vigorous wet, it could be worth investing in raincoat futures.

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