Best in a long time
  |  First Published: July 2012

The Clarence is the best it's been in a long time. I knew it was a sign that I needed a break from writing this report when the Weather Bureau was using my optimistic predictions as an accurate flood gauge!

Over the past few winters on the lower Clarence it would have been far easier to be a weather presenter then a fisherman, that’s for sure. Thanks to Joey for taking the reins for a few months, although I was hoping for a little more time off – he’s headed up the coast.

At last we’ve had clean water to fish in! The Clarence finally has good saltwater from the mouth at Yamba right through to Ulmarra and the fishing upstream of Maclean has improved markedly.

Flathead are here in the best numbers in years, with the Broadwater and the Harwood straight the pick of the spots.

It’s a great time to target them in the shallows with lightly weighted soft plastics, shallow-running bibbed lures and blades.

Bream are in the Broadwater in good numbers, too, after copping a pasting a few years back from some unscrupulous pros.

Just look for the birds feeding on the school prawns and the bream will be under them. There’s never a better time to catch them on small walk-the-dog style surface lures.

Anglers fishing for bream with lures upstream of Maclean, and especially from Ulmarra to Grafton, will no doubt come across some spawning bass at this time of year.

Remember, NSW has a closed season on river bass and estuary perch until September 1 so make sure you release them unharmed.

For those who specifically target bream, the main walls and training walls at Yamba have been producing with all the preferred methods.

Small diving minnows fished on the top of the tide over the Middle Wall, or vibration blades and weighted soft plastics drifted down the sides will bring them undone.


July marks the best of the luderick in the river. The Yamba T-Piece, the Iluka ferry approach, Goodwood Island and the Oyster Channel bridge will all receive their fair share of attention.

The main walls have been producing some very big mulloway. Live mullet, large torpedo squid and fresh tailor fillets will go a long way to catching you one.

Plenty of guys these days are using large soft plastics and bigger blades off the wall for mulloway, too. Fish these slowly through back eddies and behind the breakers on the beach side to bring undone a big jewie.

Look for a high tide on or after dark around the new moon for best results, or alternatively fish the full moon around the headlands and from the beaches.

Some decent green back tailor have already shown up around Woody Head, The Bluff and down at Sandon River.

With them is a very early run of Australian salmon. Everybody curses them but they are fun to catch and can sometimes save a lacklustre day.


Surely after the last couple of Julys being almost complete write-offs, we are owed some decent conditions for putting to sea.

July and August are our prime months for chasing snapper off the Clarence Coast and with reports of a dryer than average Winter predicted, this is shaping up as the best in years.

Even though the water offshore has cooled down considerably, there is still the chance of a decent Spanish mackerel. The big Spaniards are mainly found between Yamba and Sandon in July as they head back north, feeding in close on migrating tailor. A slowly-trolled live bait will bring them undone.

• Finally, Shake & Bake lures have gone national. For the past four years we have sold our Shake & Bake polycarbonate blades exclusively through our shop but that is all about to change. We now have machinery in place to greatly improve our output.

So if your local tackle shop does not have them in stock by the time you read this, ask them why not? Shake & Bakes are made totally in Australia with patterns tested on Australian fish and custom colours can be made to suit your area.

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