Cleaning up at last
  |  First Published: July 2011

At last – clean water to fish in! The Clarence river finally has good saltwater from the mouth at Yamba right through to Grafton and the fishing upstream of Maclean has improved markedly.

The flathead are here in good numbers, with the Broadwater the pick of the spots.

It’s a great time to target them in the shallows with lightly weighted soft plastics or shallow-running bibbed lures.

As a bonus, the bream are in the Broadwater in good numbers, too. Just look for the birds feeding on school prawns and the bream will be under them. And there’s never a better time to catch them on small walk-the-dog style surface lures.

Unfortunately (or fortunately for me!) there are lots of chopper tailor in the river and they are wreaking havoc on soft plastic lures and blades. The upside, though, that is some of the fish are pushing a kilo or better and a great fun on light gear.

Anglers fishing for bream with lures upstream of Maclean, and especially from Ulmarra to Grafton, will no doubt come across some spawning bass at this time of year.

Remember, NSW has a closed season on bass and estuary perch in rivers from June 1 to August 31, so make sure you release them unharmed.

For those who target bream, the main walls and training walls at Yamba have been producing the goods and all the preferred methods are working well.

Small diving minnows fished on the top of the tide over the Middle Wall, or vibration blades and weighted soft plastics fished down the wall will bring them undone.

In July we will see the best of the luderick in the river. The T-Piece, the Iluka ferry approach, Goodwood Island and the Oyster Channel bridge will all receive their fair share of attention.

The main walls have been producing some very big mulloway. Live mullet, large torpedo squid and fresh tailor fillets will go a long way towards catching you one.

Plenty of guys these days are using large soft plastics off the wall for mulloway. Fish these slowly through back-eddies and behind the breakers on the beach side.

Look for a high tide on or after dark around the new moon for best results, or fish the full moon around the headlands and from the beaches.

Some decent greenback tailor have already shown up around Woody Head and the Bluff, and with them is a very early run of Australian salmon. Everybody curses them, but they are fun to catch and can sometimes save a lacklustre day.

Surely, after the last couple of Julys being almost write-offs, we are owed some decent conditions for putting to sea.

July and August are our prime months for chasing snapper off the Clarence Coast. Early results are very encouraging with some quality fish already being caught, and with commonsense finally prevailing with the reversal of the ‘green grab’ in the Solitary Islands Marine Park, all augurs well for the inshore reef scene from Sandon down to Wooli.

As we all know, fish do swim so locking up parts of reefs is akin to painting a square in the sky and telling us we can't shoot ducks while they fly through it!

It took Fisheries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson to muster courage that no male politician has had to put a stop to this vote-grabbing nonsense. I would love to see them go one step further and come up with proper scientific evidence or reverse all the lock-ups.

I was a member of Coffs Angler Action Group during the creation of the Solitary Island Marine Park and never saw one scrap of scientific evidence for what they did. All we ever heard was the same old sacred cow argument dragged out about grey nurse sharks and their totally inaccurate maths formulas for counting the numbers.

As you can imagine, Minister Hodgkinson is coming under a lot of pressure from green groups. They have plenty of spare time up their sleeves – growing dreadlocks and making Tofu doesn't take all day – so a quick email to --e-mail address hidden-- congratulating her for this commonsense decision (not often do you see commonsense and politician used in the same sentence!) would go a long way to balance the ledger.

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