Mackerel offshore and cod in the headwaters
  |  First Published: January 2015

February still sees a lot of people chasing mackerel in the usual places like Shark Bay, Black Rock and Angourie.

Many are trolling with the trusty old pink squid to find them, and then setting up to bait fish. As mentioned last month, to bait fish for them you need to set up a good berley trail with a mix of pillies and tuna oil. Once you have that, rig some pillies under floats and let them drift out varying distances from the boat. Flick the ratchet on and put them in a rod holder.

Make sure you keep the trail going, but don't make it too thick as this can attract the blacktip shark population, and once they have set in you’re just wasting baits.

In the river, the large breeder flathead are still around down towards the mouth. Don't forget that these big flathead, while being a fun sportfish, are our female breeders and deserve to be put back to keep our flathead population healthy for years to come.

If looking to chase up a feed of table size flathead, the usual places like along North Arm, Oyster Channel and Browns Rocks should be holding their share of quality lizards, from legal up to the 50cm mark. Again, soft plastics and blades are the way to go; just hop them along the bottom on sandy dropoffs near weed beds or any kind of structure like rock bars or pylons.

This month is just as good as the last one on the crab front, with both blue swimmers and muddies prevalent. The usual haunts like North and South Arm, Lake Woolawayer and the Broadwater are all producing good numbers of crabs, but as always you do have to keep an ever-watchful eye on your pots to make sure those ‘share farmers’ out there who like to check your pots as well as their own are not helping themselves to your crabs! To try and keep the crab thieving down, stick around your pots and have a fish while keeping an eye on them.

If you want to cast a lure off the stones, there have been a few chopper tailor around in the 1-2.5kg range, and the Halco Twistys are working a treat on them.

The mighty Clarence River and all her tributaries have been firing on the bass front of late. The rain we saw earlier last month has seen the level rise a bit, so places like the Gorge are firing. As well as bass, we have been enjoying some cod surface sessions a bit further upriver with gun cod fisho and Croaker Lures’ manufacturer, Steve Patti. With the surface action being so hot lately, the standout lures have been the Croaker Black Betty Paddler. Coming in at 170mm long, it is a beast of a paddler, but seems to account for the largest fish of the trip.

By far the most successful colour has been black. It has been the go-to in those prime surface bite times of late afternoon and early mornings, but through the day slow rolled spinnerbaits have been working well too.

On the bass front, with the deafening sound of cicadas everywhere, the locally made Bills Bugs’ Rat 50 has been working a treat, as has my personal favourite, the Megabass Grand Siglett. If you love bass fishing, get these lures in your kit ASAP.

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