Clarence chow down
  |  First Published: December 2013

December already, where did the year go? The summer species are in full swing, with fishos chasing down flathead, whiting and mackerel at this end of the mighty Clarence River. Up river, the bass and cod are on the chew.

If it remains dry, and we don't suffer the floods that have afflicted us the last couple of years, we should get a decent run at the mackerel. Trolling the good old reliable pink squid around the usual spots, like Shark Bay, should produce good numbers. If racing around like a mad man isn't your cup of tea, then setting up a berley trail and floating a pilly out is a much more relaxing way to get the same result without the fuel bill!

If you decide to use bait, there are a couple things that can help out on a hard bite:

Leader diameter is a lot more important when fishing bait. Unlike trolling, where you can get away with 60-90lb wire, the fish gets a lot more time to eye off the offering and get picky. When using wire you can go as low as 15lb; some people skip wire altogether and risk the chance of bite-offs to get more hook ups.

For berley, the rule is less is more – you’re trying to attract them, not feed them! Set up your berley bucket with some mashed up pillies and tuna oil and then a handful of chopped up pillies every couple of minutes is best.

Off the beach

Off the beach there should be some whiting, dart, tarwhine and flathead. Live beach worms and pipis will be gun baits for most of these species, with whitebait and plastics a better choice for the flatties.

At this time of year there should be a few black tip sharks on the beach at Shark Bay. These are a really good way to get a get a child hooked on the sport of fishing for life – what little boy or girl wouldn't get a kick out of going to school after the weekend bragging about catching a shark.

Another way to entertain the kids is to chase some garfish. Most weed beds in the lower reaches of the river should be holding them. You might have to hunt them down but once you do it’s non-stop action, which will have the kids amused for quite a while. The key is berley bread and tuna oil mixed together and the same concoction on a size 10 or 12 long shank hook or some peeled prawn. Iluka Bay or up the north arm on the Yamba side along Whiting Beach or oyster channel, are all good places to start looking for them.

As far as the rest of the rest of the river is concerned there should be plenty of table quality flatties and whiting around the weed drop-offs around the bottom end of the river. The best time to get quality fish will be on those big night tides around the full and new moon with fresh baits of nippers and live worms.

Cod season

The 1 December marks the opening of cod season. There aren't many more fun things than having a cod whollop a surface lure. I’m going to head back up into the headwaters of the Mighty Clarence and get some action on these lovely looking native fish.

Bass will be pushing back up the river as well. When you hear the deafening ring of cicadas you know it is time to bust out your bass surface gear.

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