Schoolies of hard knocks
  |  First Published: August 2013

August is usually a good time on the Clarence River to get into the school jew. We’re getting close to prawn season, and the mid reaches of the river will be the best place to start searching. Places like Browns Rocks, Palmers Island and Harwood should be good spots to hit with both baits and lures.

Plastics are catching their share in the river at the moment, and my favourite plastic of late has been the 4” Z-Man StreakZ Curl TailZ in the motor oil colour. Blades will also be worth a chuck this month, and the one I like the most is the 1/4oz TT’s Switchblade in purple glimmer. Both lures have accounted for some quality fish lately.

I haven’t forgotten you bait fishers though! To get among those school jew your best bet is a few live baits. I prefer herring to poddy mullet simply because they are easier to catch, although poddy mullet are a much hardier bait if you can get them. The rig I use is very simple: I start with a size 5/0-6/0 circle hook (I like to use the Mustad Demon because it’s a nice, strong, light gauge hook). I attach this to about 40cm of 20lb fluorocarbon leader (lately I have been using Platypus Stealth). To this I attach a swivel and then a ball sinker in size 2-5 depending on the depth and current I’m fishing at the time.

If chasing school jew isn’t your thing and you want to catch a bigger specimen, throwing big diving minnow lures off the headlands and sending live mullet into beach gutters are good ways to find a cracker jewie.

The flatties at this time of year are usually found upriver, more around MacLean. The Broadwater is the pick of the spots. Both plastics and blades have been producing good school-sized flatties up at that end of the river.

When the prawns start moving, so will the bream. One of my favourite ways to catch them is to cast poppers over the weed beds. There is nothing more exciting than seeing a fish attack your surface lure – it definitely gets the blood pumping! My favourite lure for these fish is the 45mm JAZLure Popper Tail, which comes in a great range of colours. One of the main reasons I like them is because they have a feather dressing on the rear treble, which is a great place to put catch scent. On those tough fishing days when the fish aren’t really committing, catch scent can help to get them to have more of a proper go at your lure. Trust me, there is nothing more frustrating than a day full of getting multiple boils on your lure cast after cast, but no hook-up!

Outside there should be good snapper on the inshore reef combined with plenty of trag jew. At this time of year the pearlies often come in close, so there is a good chance of a good mixed bag of edible fish on the inshore grounds.

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