Big bream schooling up
  |  First Published: May 2007

The big bream of the Clarence River have started to school up and are on the chew.

Good fish have been taken around Maclean with the South Arm producing some big numbers. This area has been fishing really well due to the large number of prawns in this part of the system.

Some days you can sight cast to the big bream as they attack the schools of prawns in the shallows and over the shallow reefs. Surface lures such as the Towadi and Tiemco are accounting for most of the fish but if you are after the really big bream on lures then suspending minnows are the weapon of choice, fished along the edges of the reeds and mangroves above Maclean.

Bait anglers are still finding it tough with most of the quality bream remaining in the shallows and only a sprinkling of good bream on the walls in the lower reaches. This should start to change this month as the sea-run bream start to move along the coast.

That great run of jewfish we had has finally come to an end with most trips producing only the normal one or two fish. The size of these fish has also gone down with most under 70cm (4kg) and the quality fish becoming harder to find.

But the action is still on for the dedicated jew fisho with the beaches starting to heat up with reports of fish to 15kg from Shark Bay and Back Beach. The rocky headlands are also producing some big fish with Iluka Bluff the spot to be with large hard-body lures, feather jigs and big sea gar as bait. Anglers fishing into the early part of the night are finding the best of the fish.

Big tailor are also finding their way on to the beaches and headlands with some anglers chasing jew complaining of really big tailor biting them off and taking their lures.

The best of the fishing has been on the beaches using strips of bonito. This technique has been producing some quality tailor to 5kg when the blacktip sharks are not around. Those wishing to chase these sharks will find all the action at Shark Bay in the afternoon and early part of the night.


Longtail tuna are still on fire on the Iluka Breakwall with many anglers chasing this ultimate surface action. If you wish to try your hand at hooking one of these torpedos you will need a fast-retrieve reel that will hold 400-500m of 10-15kg line, a surface popper that has a casting weight of at least 50g, a good pair of polarised sunglasses and some stout shoes.

Head out to the Iluka Breakwall, where you’ll need to walk at least half-way out so you can watch for the tuna. If you find a school of bait along the wall then start there, because the tuna will find them, too. Then it’s just a matter of waiting until a fish shows up chasing the bait and you get to make a cast at one of these fish.

Crabs are still hard to find in good numbers with the sand crab season being poor this year. The best option for a good feed is to chase mud crabs in the small creeks and drains throughout the Clarence River.


Last month I said I would explain my beliefs when applying scent to a lure. The best way to use scent when lure fishing is not for finding fish but to make them bite aggressively.

Lots of lure anglers use scent to help find fish but that does not really work because you are finding only the odd fish and not the main school. If you want to make lure scent work to its maximum potential, you first must find a school of fish.

Once you have found a school of fish that are biting tentatively you then apply the scent in small amounts to encourage the fish to bite the lure in an aggressive manner.

If you find a school that is actively feeding, do not use scent until the bite starts to go off – this way you increase the time the fish will feed.


On May 13 Paul Kneller of Big River Bait and Tackle and I will hold the inaugural Clarence River CATI Teams Classic.

This will be a catch-and-release bream tournament with prizes for the top teams. The cost will be $20 per team to cover insurance and we will be releasing a large number of bream fingerling on the day. For more information call Paul Kneller on (02) 6645 1834.


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