Great fishing around Yamba
  |  First Published: November 2016

It’s been a super start to spring. Fish throughout the river system and offshore have played the game, with some catches all over. The river has recovered from the constant small freshes that give it that dark colour and make fishing a little hard. Clean saltwater is now pushing up past Maclean on the flood tide.

Great flathead have been taken on their run downstream to spawn from Harwood Bridge, the junction near Ashby, and Harwood Sugar Mill upstream to the entrance of Lake Wooloweyah in the north. These fish appear to be chasing the abundance of river prawns pushed out with the ebb tide. A good sign is bird activity close to the bank, as they pick smaller prawns off the surface. Good fish won’t be far away and most have been taken on larger dark coloured plastics with light weighted jigheads.

Larger than average whiting have shown up early this year. For those prepared to have a fish in the dark with some live yabbies, results have been impressive. They’re still about during the day, but holding the drop-offs in deeper water and further upstream. Drifting in front of Sleepers Island at the turn of the tide is a great way to get a feed of these tasty little fish.

Lovely bream have been taken from Browns Rocks in the last week, with live herring as the preferred bait. Try rigging them with a very small treble hook near the eyes, as the larger bream will attack the fish head on. Browns Rocks can be a hard area to fish when the tide really starts to run, so plan your trip around either tide change to give you some slack water and make it easier to get your bait to the fish.

Mulloway have been a bit scarce around the south break wall lately, mainly due to reconstruction work going on. The workers revamping the wall are dropping large boulders in the water and onto the wall – fish will move away while this is happening. A lot more work is to be done on the wall, so it’ll be quiet for some time. Smaller fish are still being taken from Oyster Channel Bridge and upstream to Harwood Bridge, but Iluka Wall or the North Breakwall and Moriartys would seem like a better option for larger fish.

Offshore has had great fishing lately. Fantastic snapper are coming from the southern grounds from Red Cliff to Sandon. The offshore breeze has been consistent, clouding up the water, but if you can find clear patches of clean water the fish are bunched nice and tight. Woody Head Break is a good place to flick a few plastics at first light in around 7-8m of water, and should stay that way until the end of November. Once the sun gets up around 9am, they move into deeper water.

The red tide, what we call Red October, has arrived. This is very obvious for those travelling offshore – big patches of maroon to brown water. I hate this stuff – it sucks oxygen from the water and puts the fish to sleep, making it hard to get a bite. This red tide can stick around until mid-November at times. Avoid fishing near it, and head wider to find clean water. Rarely will it affect water of 40m or deeper, so fish found there will be easier to catch.

Northern grounds from Black Rock to Evans Head are still holding big trag, with a lot going over the 70cm mark. They’re a good feed. With them are some nice mulloway just wide of South Evans Reef, in around 42m. We’ve been picking up good cobia too. Snapper on the north ground will like the shallower water, so between South Evans bommies and Chaos will give you nice plate-size fish with the odd stray beast.

The 50 fathom line, for those with the boats to handle it, will have big snapper as they move back out after the spawn. The current has been reasonably light, so they’re easy to fish for all and hold in tight groups. Pearl perch will be in abundance – look for the patches of wire weed, as they will hang that area. There have been a few big yellowtail kingfish around with the odd amberjack and samsonfish, so take some jigs with you.

Last year, we had an early show of mackerel in Shark Bay in November. Signs are looking good for a repeat performance. Keep an eye on the warm current forecasts and you should notice a finger of hot water cutting from Byron to Woody. This will be a giveaway that they’re there. Also, Shark Bay will have 100 boats in it. The mackerel are really patchy on the first arrival with good fish one day and nothing for 2-3 days. Be prepared to go reef fishing if they don’t show up on your day off.

If you’d like any extra advice on what’s happening in Yamba, feel free to call into Marina Boat and Tackle and have a chat with myself or my brother Rob Gaden.


Some lovely catches have been made offshore. Find patches of clean water and have a go.


A beast of a mulloway – there’s some nice mulloway just wide of South Evans Reef.


Fantastic snapper are about.


Snapper on the north ground will like the shallower water with nice plate size fish available.

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