Last call for mackerel
  |  First Published: May 2012

Over the next month the track pants and beanies will come out of hibernation, the mullet will run which and those big jewfish will be out around the Yamba and Iluka breakwalls on the night high tides.

This is also time for a last-ditch effort to get out and chase some mackerel before those cool currents come and wreck the party.

In April some large Spanish mackerel were taken off the Iluka breakwall when the warm blue water was in close and you still won't have to venture out very far at all.

Start trolling from the bar north along The Bluff, Frazers Bluff and Woody Head because the Spanish will be in close early in the morning on the top of the tide chasing baitfish.

Live slimy mackerel will be the pick for bringing these big Spaniards undone.

Also hanging out with the mackies will be longtail tuna and it is possibly the last chance to chase these guys land-based before that warm blue water departs.


The bottom end of the river will be a hive of activity with trevally moving upstream as the water clears and jewfish hot on their tails as they chase the baitfish up river.

But all the action will be from the reef at Browns Rocks and along the deep rock walls at the lower end of the river, where big numbers of snowy bream will be starting to congregate in preparation for spawning.

These bream have been schooling up the in the lower reaches since April and will continue right through this month, with some great catches on the cards.

Vibration blades and soft plastics worked slowly through the deep sections will be most productive.

But the bait fishos will also have their fair share of fun. Lightly weighted mullet strips, mullet gut and the very popular Clarence River prawns will produce the goods along Middle Wall.

Remember with bream, it’s ‘no run, no fun'. Once the tide starts to run, so will the fish because the baitfish will push out on a run -out tide or come back into the system on the run in.

Mixed in with the bream will be good-sized school jew so while you’re waiting for the tide to run for your bream, target the jew in the same areas on the slack of the tide.

Bigger vibration blades and large plastics will work a treat.

Thinking outside of the box will help, so dig deep into the bass box and cast your Jackall TN 60s – the jew go nuts over these vibrating lipless crankbaits.


You could also dust the cobwebs off bass outfits that have been lying unused over the wet season because May is the last chance to chase these sport fish before the closed season starts on June 1.

The majority of the fish have been holding down around the famous Maclean rocks and along the grassy margins at Brushgrove.

Matching the hatch is vital as these bass are gorging themselves on prawns before spawning. So small vibration blades, hardbodies and soft plastics in natural colours will be the pick.

An old-time but very exciting sport that I enjoy thoroughly is chasing blackfish.

This month marks the start of the time when the massive schools push into the river and can be caught along Middle Wall and from the breakwalls and river walls.

These fish can still be targeted from the headlands but will be scattered and will take a little more effort. But it is very rewarding catching one in that rough, rocky environment and the fish generally seem to taste cleaner than the ones that have been in the river for a few months.

It’s totally personal preference whether you use green weed or the local ‘black magic’ weed; both will produce good results.

New technology is being introduced into this sport. Where once you needed a sloppy 13’ rod and a centrepin reel, these days a 2000 size spin reel and a 10’ graphite rod will produce great results.


The run of big tailor is upon us, with some great catches of fish up to 4kg taken from Woody Head and Main Beach at Iluka.

Using a metal lure the same size as the bait the fish are chasing is vital. Throwing a large lure while they are feeding on tiny whitebait might not get their attention.

At night off the beach, use large cut baits such as mullet fillets on a two-hook rig with light mono wire joining the hooks to sniff out those big greenback tailor.

Back offshore, it’s time to start chasing snapper, pearl perch and trag.

Sandon to the south and Black Rocks to the north will be good areas to start drifting baits and throwing plastics around.

The large snapper will be starting to show and it’s only a matter of time before we see those thumping 10kg to 12kg fish. Remember, the harder you pull, the harder they pull!

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