Come January, our run of pelagics is in full swing. With a lack of rain leaving nice clean water for the annual arrival of the spotted mackerel, the usual spotty grounds like Shark Bay and Angourie should see a fair few fish over the coming months.
The good old Clarence favourite, a 6” pink squid, will be getting a lot of use, but if running around trolling seems like a bit too much work, there is always the bait option. First, set up a good berley trail with pillies and tuna oil. Once you have that sorted, rig some ganged pillies under floats, let them drift out varying distances from the boat, put the ratchet on and sit the rod in a holder. All you have to do now is keep a steady trail going and wait for the action to begin.
In the river, we are seeing large breeding flathead moving down to the mouth. As stated in last month’s column, don't forget that while they are a fun sportfish, these are also our female breeders and deserve to be released to keep the population healthy for years to come.
If it remains dry, good eating size flathead might be a bit more spread out along the river. Any of the favourite flattie spots from the mouth to Maclean will be worth hitting, with North Arm, Oyster Channel, Browns Rocks, Harwood and the Back Channel holding quality fish from legal size up to 50cm or so.
Soft plastics and blades are the way to go if chasing up a feed; just hop them along the bottom over sandy dropoffs adjacent to weed beds, or near structure like rock bars, jetty and bridge pylons.
This season has been just as good as the last on the crab front, with both blue swimmers and muddies plentiful. Again, the usual spots like the North and South Arms and the Broadwater are producing good numbers of crabs, but you do have to watch out for people who like to check your pots as well as their own. To try and keep the crab thieving down, stay nearby and have a fish so you can keep an eye out.
The mighty Clarence and all her tributaries have been firing on the bass front of late. I must say I’ve really been enjoying the bass fishing recently, and find myself shooting up the river whenever a spare moment pops up.
With the surface action being so hot, the standout lure has been the Croaker Surface Paddler, and it’s the first lure I’m tying on as soon as there’s a whisper of a bass trip. It has been a gun in those prime surface bite times of late afternoon and early mornings, but during the day Beetle Spins rolled through the snags are still the best producers. It pays to up the gear weight a little when working so close to snags, as it saves on losing lures if you get bricked.
With cod season opening last month, the top of the Clarence has been fishing well, with the maker of Croaker Lures, Steve Patti, showing the quality of fish on offer if you’re willing to put the work in.
The author with a Croaker-crunching upper Clarence bass.
The author’s favourite surface bass lure, the Croaker Paddler.
For the mulloway chasers out there, it's still worth throwing a lure about off the stones. Kaleum Gannon holding up 26.5 golden kgs of lure-munching dream fish.Reads: 1961