Promise of a sizzling season
  |  First Published: December 2012

You know summer is upon us when the flathead turn up in the sort of numbers we are seeing at the moment. From the Maclean Broadwater to the mouth, lizards galore are being taken.

Anglers throwing soft plastics or vibration blades are having the best results, but the whitebait bobbers are getting their fair share in the deeper water.

Whiting have shown up in good numbers and after all the rain over the past couple of seasons, popper fans are rejoicing.

The river has been clean and salty right through to Grafton, auguring well for the summer.

A clear blade with a pink back is much loved by the local whiting, too.

As the water temperature improves we should see the first of the blue swimmer crabs enter the system. I usually wait until good numbers of eagle rays or a few cobia show up in the river.

The handful of washed-out summers preceding this produced very few blueys, so we are more than overdue for a good one. The key to crabbing success is very fresh bait.

Mud crabs should also be on the move around Maclean, although it usually does take a small fresh to wake them from their slumbers.

Remember, no crab traps are allowed upstream of the Maclean Courthouse (or you may end up in there!) but witches’ hats are fine.


With the water offshore a little cool for this time of year we are still fishing more like late winter than early summer.

The inshore reefs are still turning up some good reds, trag and even a few good pearlies.

Reports from further north indicate small black marlin are travelling south, so as soon as that cobalt warm water turns up we should see them in good numbers.

Over the past few summers they have been virtually untouched because no one could get offshore to target them and the brown dirty water leaving the river pushed them and the mackerel much wider. Let’s hope we get the water and weather we so richly deserve.


To say it has been a good bass season so far would be an understatement. The Clarence and it tributaries have been firing but in a rare turn of events for the Northern Rivers, a few of our favourite spots could do with a little more water so that the bass can push back up.

But, as they say, be careful what you wish for, because when it does start raining here it sometimes forgets to stop!

In the Ebor region a lot of the smaller creeks are lacking decent flow and the trout fishing has been a little slow, with the best of it west of Guyra.


With the cost of holiday accommodation in some areas being exorbitant, there probably isn't a better time to consider a camping holiday.

To the north and south of the Clarence lie large national parks, Bundjalung and Yuraygir. Both offer many different camping options, mostly basic, and all allow you to pitch a tent or set up a caravan near the beach for very little money.

Woody Head, north of Iluka, becomes fully booked over Christmas-New Year but there can be vacancies at other times. The area offers some great rock fishing and sheltered beach launching for boats to fish the nearby reefs.

Woody is renowned for its spotted mackerel over the Summer and is well serviced by Iluka, only a few minutes’ drive away.

South of the river, Redcliff, Brooms Head and Sandon River offer differing types of camping. Redcliff has some great beach and rock fishing but you’ll need to bring your own water.

Brooms Head has a council-run caravan park with a huge amount of camping space as well as cabins and a small but well-stocked general store. Beach launching of boats can be achieved in suitable conditions.

Sandon River has a very small camping area and fills up quickly at holiday time, but by the third week in January it is usually pretty empty. Sandon offers camping right on the back of a fairly sheltered beach, direct access to the sea via a small bar crossing and some surprisingly good river fishing at times.

Campers in the Red Cliff/Sandon region have all major services 15 minutes down the road at Maclean – with the best-stocked tackle shop in the area. Call in to Big River Bait & Tackle in the main street of Maclean for all the latest info and mud maps.

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