Better times ahead
  |  First Published: March 2012

The postman walked in and smacked me in the back of the head with a copy of the February mag and said, “What the hell were you guys thinking, writing that the river was shaping up for a brilliant February?”

How wrong I was! After a couple of weeks of heavy rain and a moderate flood pushing down the Clarence, a break in the weather is surely past due.

That hopefully means in March we should see better times ahead.

As the river cops all this dirty water, plenty of people pack up their fishing gear and wait for some cleaner water to return to the river, they will miss out on a whole lot of fun.

Switching to dirty water tactics doesn’t require a whole lot of brainwork, with blades and hardbodies the way to go during these conditions.

Blades worked through those deeper holes in the lower river around Browns Rocks and Palmers Island will bring some of the better size mulloway undone, because the dirty fresh water will be just on the surface.

Straight after the flood, plenty of school mulloway were holding on the main breakwall at Yamba so as the water clears and the prawns move back into the river, the food chain will slowly move back upstream.

Find the prawns, and the mulloway and bream will be lurking in the same area.

Once you have located the food source, thoroughly work the area over with blades and rattling hardbodies.

In this dirty water fish rely on their vibration-sensing lateral lines to hunt,

Doing all this around the change of the tide will reap the best results.

Thinking outside of the box will reward the canny fisho in these challenging conditions.

Lake Wooloweyah will also produce good results because most of the rain was not local and the lake should hold a good plug of salt.


Large flathead will be chasing the prawns back up the river, so target the weedy edges.

In coloured water fish will sit in very close to the river’s edge, so crank your plastics and blades very slowly and you will bring the big lizards undone.

You will catch plenty of big bream casting small hardbodies along the many rock walls from Palmers Island right up to Maclean. Remember to hold them in the strike zone as long as you can; the bream will be high in the water and right in among the stones.

Flathead and some XOS bass also have been pushed down river by the fresh.

This March we will see some great catches of large bass at Rocky Mouth, above Maclean out on the reef. Blades and hardbodies worked down deep and across the current will bring plenty of fish unstuck here.

As the river clears there is still plenty of warmth left for some great surface action.

Whiting and bream will be quite active in the lower reaches and some croc-size flathead will also come up and smash your surface lure. In some cases, they’ll add it to their collection.


The dirty water offshore should mainly head south, so Shark Bay, near Woody Head, should see the mackerel come back on the bite first. Slow-trolled slimy mackerel and pink squid towed up to 8 knots will be the pick tactics.

As the water clears the southern grounds, right down to Brooms Head and Sandon River, will fire up.

The snapper will continue to bite on the inshore reefs and chucking 5” Gulp Jerkshads will also turn up pearl perch and trag. Don't rule out some big cobia; there have been a couple of great cobes caught off the wall on live bait lately.

Up in the highlands, March is grasshopper weather and as Autumn gathers momentum there will be some great trout caught. The streams in the Ebor region have had plenty of rain and there should be enough risers to keep the fly anglers happy.

Autumn is also shaping up to produce some great bass fishing in the Upper Clarence, which will clear quickly.

The high rivers have meant bass have had a good chance to move back up into those long, deep holes, even up as far as Tabulam and Paddys Flat. Soon they will need to make the decision whether to run back down river to spawn or not.

A surface bite is not out of the question but the most productive tactics will be throwing large hardbodies and lipless crankbaits tight into structure.

I’ll be handing over the Clarence reporter reins to Big River bait and Tackle staffer Joey Urquhart from next issue onwards while I take a spell and sit on the porch and whittle up a few lures.

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