If you only get to go to sea for snapper one month a year on the Clarence Coast, August would have to be the best time. There only ever seems to be one reliable month of weather here over the past few years and that is August.
Cold mornings with a slight southwesterly give way to almost glassed out days and the reds are as close to the coast as they get all year.
Fishing lightly weighted soft plastics in 6-15m is a great way to tangle with a big fish, and as a bonus the pearl perch are with them. Throw in the odd trag and tuskfish and the inshore reef scene doesn't get any better than now. There is still even the odd plastic stealing longtail tuna hanging around – not exactly the preferred target but they certainly smoke some line on snapper gear.
The main walls have been producing plenty of decent bream and big mulloway for the nocturnal anglers. If you can brave the cold winter nights you deserve all the success. The slack tide on or after dark on the lead up to the new moon or on the beach and headlands around the full moon are the best times.
We’ve had another winter of heavy rain and a couple of small freshes coming down the Clarence, so just where the flathead are in the river is a week by week proposition. Currently the best of the lizards are from Palmer's Island down to the mouth and up in Oyster Channel. This is the same for the bream with the training walls offering up the best fishing.
Flathead in August can be a tough nut to crack as the water is at it's coldest. An old method we use this time of the year that was shown to me many years ago by Starlo, and is known as ‘whipping the shad’. This method doesn't seem to make a lot of sense on the surface, but when you see the results for yourself you will soon forget about it and go with the flow.
It involves using fairly heavily weighted 3/8-1/2oz jig heads, 100mm shad style soft plastics, a fairly stout 2.1m to 2.4m graphite rod and 10-15lb braided line. Cast the lure long up into the shallows and when it rests on the bottom rip the rod tip back swiftly as far behind you as possible, wind back down the slack line and repeat. The theory is that in their cold lethargic condition the flathead's natural predatory instinct takes over and they strike out at the fleeing prey. Whatever the reason it certainly works, so give it a go for yourself.
Fishing up around Maclean with lures has produced plenty of big bass, just remember August is still closed season for bass so return them straight back into the water.
Out on the coast it has been a bit hit miss with the tailor. It depends on prevailing wind conditions – anything with east in it has been pushing discoloured water in close and putting them off. They always fish better here after a decent southerly has pushed cleaner water in close.
The Australian salmon have turned up again in almost biblical proportions. August should see the salmon do their usual trick and turn left into the Clarence – how far up they go depends on water conditions. In dry winters they will go as far as Grafton!
For all the latest fishing information call in and see us at Big River Bait & Tackle, 16b River St, Maclean. You can also phone us on (02) 66451834.Reads: 811