What a difference!
  |  First Published: February 2012

Those with long memories may remember my February column from last year, when I penned that it was the hardest one I ever had to write as thick floodwaters swirled around.

What a very different Clarence Valley we have this year!

The holidaymakers and tourist parks were dealt an early scare with talk of more tropical cyclones over the Christmas break but instead we had glorious warm days and after a decent southerly buster did its job, the sea is very blue and very warm in close.

The mackerel fishos have not had such good conditions for quite a few years and as I write the talk is all Spaniards.

And by the time you read this the spotties should be here in good numbers. Good Lord willing and creeks don't rise, they should hang around until April or May and the Spanish until June.

Towing live slimy mackerel will bring the majority of the macks undone, but on the days when all you can get is yakkas, don't discard them, they catch their share of fish, and cobia certainly don't mind them at all.


In February the phone in the shop is usually ringing off the wall with callers asking the same question: “Any sign of the longtail off the main walls yet?”

Well, not yet, but by the time you read this, judging on the current conditions, they could well be on the chew.

Iluka’s main wall is the pick but Woody Head, The Bluff and all the headlands on the southern side of Yamba should yield plenty. No doubt slimy mackerel are the pick bait but the longtails will take a yellowtail and plenty will fall to poppers.

The big breeding female flathead are well and truly entrenched in the lower river now. The Middle Wall at Yamba is where these big gals can be found over the next few months.

If you do tangle with one, do yourself a favour and release it unharmed. As far as taste goes, you may as well eat your thongs.

Further up-river, between Brown's Rocks and Maclean, there are plenty of good eating -size lizards to be had.

Try soft plastics along the rock wall at Palmers Island around the change of the tide for best results.

Bream are around in better numbers and size then they were through Winter.

With the river almost full of small school prawns, it is no surprise.

The first of the run out tide at the Wheels, just outside the Broadwater, will get you amongst them.

The flats around Yamba are producing lots of quality whiting.

If you ever wanted to try your hand at surface luring for them, this is the month they are their most active in the Clarence.

A handful of little poppers and some walk-the-dog surface lures presented on a long, light graphite spin combo is about as much fun you can have fishing in the estuaries.


The bass continue to look to the surface as terrestrials get blown into the water from afternoon thunderstorms and strong Summer breezes.

Make the most of the surface lure activity through February because they’ll slow up a bit in March.

Up in the hills it had been a surprisingly slow start to the trout season. Winter and spring rains never really fell in the Ebor region like they did around Guyra and further west, but in recent weeks there have been plenty of good falls and my mail is the rivers and creeks have bounced back well and are fishing accordingly.

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