It's beginning to look a lot like Fishmas!
  |  First Published: December 2011

After what would have to have been (touch wood!) the driest spring we have seen for some years in the Clarence Valley, with just the odd afternoon thunderstorm, the fishing has flourished.

The bass are really starting to hit their straps now with good morning and afternoon surface action ramping up. If you fish for bass and don't shriek like a four-year-old girl when a big fish climbs all over your surface lure, check your pulse – you are no longer with us!

The flathead fishing has gone from ordinary to unreal in the past couple of weeks. Bream anglers pre-fishing for the Gamakatsu Bream grand final on the Clarence have been plagued by the lizards, especially around Rocky Mouth and the entrance to the Broadwater above Maclean.

I don't know why flathead have such a love for little Jackall Chubbies but they can't get enough of them here.

Often the big frogs will chew through the bream fishos’ light fluorocarbon leaders, resulting in the loss of expensive lures (we call that feeding strawberries to pigs!), but the flathead swims off with it the and the tackle shop gets to sell you another one. That’s a win-win situation for me, at least!

And if you can wade through the lizards there still are some quality bream to be had, especially for this time of the year. The river is as clear as it has been in many a year so concentrate any daytime activity from Browns Rocks up during the day, save downstream for your nocturnal pursuits.

At the risk of jinxing the whole thing, we are having a whiting season, with fish taking poppers from Lawrence to the river mouth.

Just as in the past couple of seasons, the giant herring are feeding alongside the whiting on the prawns.

It can be expensive when nearly a metre of ‘not whiting’ takes to the sky after a blistering run to cut you off or burn you off on light line, but boy is it exciting. If you do land one, release it carefully because its eating quality runs a poor second to a pike.

They are not an easy fish to handle though, more akin to unmanned fire hose. Try to keep them in the water for a safer release.


Without a doubt the most anticipated species to turn up over the summer is the spotted mackerel. Spotties will dominate discussions between inshore fishers over the next couple of months.

Discussion focuses on how fickle these fish can be, eating almost anything on a wire trace one day and shying off anything other than mono the next.

Trolling the old tried and tested pink plastic squid lure will still account for the majority of spotties, although floating pillies in a berley trail or trolling live slimy mackerel or yakkas will also catch plenty.

The thing I like the best about trolling livies is that it opens the possibility of tangling with other pelagics hunting baitfish on the inshore reefs.

More small black marlin and cobia are caught this way by mackerel fishos than by those who are targeting them.

The snapper are not showing any real signs of slowing down, with good fish from Black Rock to Sandon River. Speaking of Sandon River, the fishing in the lower stretches has been very good, with plenty of big flathead and whiting also on the chew.

Nippers are still top bait at Sandon and don't forget your crab traps because some big muddies will be hanging around in the upper reaches.

Make sure if you are holidaying in the Clarence Valley over the break that you call in and see us at the start of your vacation – you wouldn’t believe the number of people who drop in on their way home disappointed with their catch. You can't beat local knowledge and advice, no matter where you holiday.

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