Ocean Rhythms, August 17

After a wet, tumultuous start to winter, July has settled back into a stable, predictable winter pattern. This is high pressure, clear skies, offshore winds and regular episodes of swell from the southern quadrant. Occasionally that pattern is broken by long range, long period swell from the E, which we saw  over the Skullcandy Oz Grom comp with some subsequent ultra groomed point surf, notably at Flat Rock. The weekend of 22/23 July gave us our biggest surf since the black nor-easter swell last June as a result of a multi-centred deep low which stalled near New Zealand’s South Island and generated a powerful SE/SSE groundswell. That saw 6-8ft surf at the Point on Sunday with maybe a couple of rogue bombs. Unfortunately a strong breeze that tended W to WNW blew up the face making take-offs hair raising and the face hard to surf. No matter, it was still a good thrill on a perfect blue bird day.

The good news for local and visiting surfers is that clean swells and a general regime of swells from the south through east has continued to groom and replenish the sand banks on the Point breaks. As long as we don’t get a storm swell these banks should last through the winter. At time of writing a strong Tasman low was predicted for the first week of August with excellent prospects for another run of good to great point surf.

A word of warning is timely as white shark activity and numbers increase in the Evans-Byron region over the winter. Multiple juvenile/sub-adult white sharks have been caught on drumlines in both the Evans and Lennox-Ballina region in the last month, as well as setting off the listening stations. It remains to be seen whether the smart drum-lines have some kind of long-term protective effect; possibly caught and tagged sharks may now be more cautious in inshore waters and less likely to cruise the surf zone where they are likely to encounter people surfing. What is getting increasingly harder to deny as robust data from the tagging and surveillance programs is accumulated is the fact of local and increasing abundance of white sharks. This is in accordance with observations of surfers and fishermen and at odds with the official line from DPI and local scientists as recently as last year. When the theory no longer fits the facts you need to throw the theory out and try one that does fit the facts. In this case the facts are, the increasing likelihood of a rebound in white shark populations in Eastern Australia and a subsequent increase in the risk of attack/encounter for ocean users.

Local fishing has been consistent as water cleared up from the June fresh. Bait schools have been a bit scarce but tailor have been haunting the local washes off headlands with normal times of dawn and dusk producing the goods. Some big greenbacks have been amongst them. If they are full of whitebait changing to smaller lures is a good bet. The silver ghost, the jewfish, have been there for anglers prepared to put in a thousand casts per fish. Yours truly got one third cast in the middle of the day on light gear off a local headland and went straight to the news-o to buy a lottery ticket. Sometimes there’s no substitute for good luck. Thats all for this month. Till next month, tight lines and tubular visions.

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