Carrying a torch for Harrington
  |  First Published: December 2011

Over January Harrington is usually host to 5000 to 7000 holidaymakers at any one time.

With three caravan parks, motels and houses for rent, the town can really pack in a crowd during holiday time.

Most of these visitors wet a line from time to time. Some are at it every day and not all of these fisherpersons know the rules of peaceful fishing with one’s neighbours.

I suppose the three most obnoxious transgressions are throwing across another person’s line; rushing in to take someone else’s spot when they are removing a fish; and torches and damned torches.

Nothing can be more upsetting to the keen bream fisher than some happy-go-lucky bloke sticking his brand-new one million candlepower Christmas stocking torch over the rocks and illuminating the floor of the river for 20m in each direction either side of you and shouting, ‘got any yet?’

I suppose this is why the locals can be very picky about the times and places they fish.

Many years ago when I was young, three of us were walking up the river wall towards where the Spur Wall used to be. It was as black as pitch and we kept on the concrete path because the rocks at the edge of the cement were about a metre high.

We got near to where the high rocks used to be when a person out on the rocks shone his torch straight down into the water.

One of my mates said, ‘Are you looking for the fish, mate?’ Quick as lightning, the torch man replied, “You’ll be in there swimming with them in a minute.”

This illustrates the fact that most people don’t like being told that they are doing the wrong thing.


Flathead can be caught in most parts of the river at the moment. They are mostly smaller fish up to 50cm, which make great eating.

Not many big breeders have been taken in recent weeks but no doubt that will change come January, when the big females gather at the mouth of the river to spawn.

Thankfully a lot of the younger fishers are releasing the big fish and allowing them to breed. The older anglers are much harder to convince and are set in their ways.

After Christmas the schools of baitfish will be moving up the river, accompanied by small chopper tailor, and they will be followed by the jewfish that feed on the tailor.

A live chopper makes a great jew bait in the estuary but remember the legal size is 30cm.


By January the north-easterly winds will be dominating proceedings. The mornings are calm but by 2pm the north-easter can blow at 20 knots or more.

So the mornings are the best times to fish the beaches and rocks.

The north-easter is not a dangerous wind when fishing from the rocks. You will probably get splashed by the chop but there probably won’t be any big rollers to sweep you into the briny.

Tailor, salmon, whiting jew and bream can all be taken from the beaches and groper and rock blackfish from the rocks.


Calm mornings allow boats to get in close to the rocks and spin for tailor and kingies, or to float a live bait for big snapper or jew.

If this does not excite you then trolling for bonito and mackerel can be done or a bit of bottom-bashing can yield pearl perch, flathead and snapper. Out wider, mahi mahi can be caught around the FADs.

January is the time for flathead in the estuary and luderick from the walls on green weed or lettuce gathered from the rocks at Crowdy Head.

Most of the young fishers target flathead and there are plenty of spots where they can fish in safety.

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