Gear up for the mackerel invasion
  |  First Published: December 2014

Come December, the east coast hot currents are boring down from Queensland and our run of pelagics is in full swing. Chasing spotted mackerel will be the mainstay offshore from the lower Clarence, and the usual mack grounds like Shark Bay and Angourie should see a fair bit of traffic and fish in the coming months.

As stated last issue, a little common sense and consideration of others goes a long way to making life on the water a little easier and more relaxed at this congested time of year.

The favourite lure to troll for macks is a pink squid of around 6” long with a number 4 bean sinker squeezed tightly into its head. A 30cm length of 60lb seven-strand wire passes though the skirt and sinker. Attached at one end is an appropriately rated rolling swivel, and at the other a 6/0 straight shank hook spaced so it just pokes out the back of the skirt. Tie all that to the end of a 20-30lb outfit and you have yourself the perfect combo for chasing spotties.

In the river, the flathead will have moved down to the mouth to breed. While being a fun fish to catch, don’t forget the big females are our breeding stock and deserve to be released. Take a few brag pics and pop them back in the drink.

There should definitely be plenty of good eating size flatties around the usual haunts. Places like North Arm, Oyster Channel and Browns Rocks should all hold quality fish from just legal up to 50cm. Soft plastics and blades are the best way to round up a feed, hopping them along the bottom on sandy dropoffs near weed beds.

This season is shaping up to be as good as last year for both blue swimmer and mud crabs. Places like the North and South arms, Lake Woolawayer and the Broadwater were all good producers, and should be again this year.

The mighty Clarence River and all her tributaries have been firing on the bass front of late. Myself and a couple of mates have been making quite a few trips upstream, enjoying plenty of surface action on Croaker Lures’ Surface Paddlers in the late afternoon and early mornings. During the day, Beetle Spins rolled through the snags have been our best producers.

It pays to up the gear weight a little when working so close to snags, as it saves losing lures from getting bricked. Bass are one of my all-time favourite lure targets, as they are such a fun, hard-hitting fish.

While on the subject of upstream species, it’s almost time to go chase another classic freshwater fish, as cod season is about to open.


Kaleum Gannon with a nice afternoon Croaker Lure victim.


Your columnist with another surface-hitting bass that took a liking to a Croaker.


A nice bass plucked out of the snags on a Beetle Spin during the day.

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