Spots and reds going strong
  |  First Published: December 2005

You can look forward to good times with a variety of fish in good numbers on the bite around the Clarence this holiday season.

Those heading offshore after mackerel can expect a good showing with water now around 23° or 24°. Already anglers have been returning with some good bags, including one pro’s morning catch of 32 spotted mackerel.

Best method so far this year has been to float live bait or a cut pillie down deep and a long way from the boat. Some fishos have even started experimenting with soft plastics using the same method with some very interesting results.

If you prefer to troll, it won’t be long until the pink squid becomes the No.1 lure but at the moment a deep-diving hard lure about 10cm to 15cm long is your best bet.

Snapper, snapper and, yep, more snapper! What a season it has been with some of the best catches for a long time. The average size has been between 1-3kg with not many fish over 6kg, but there have still been good numbers.

On a good morning some anglers using soft plastics have been filling their bag limits while the bait fishos have struggled to get a bite. The hot colour has been green with shads, grubs and stickbaits all working.

Most snapper are taking the lures on the drop so don’t be afraid to work the plastic back to the boat fast. Best jig heads for the snapper I have found are the Gamakatsu shad or cobra heads. My favourite lures are the Atomic 4” Shad and the Berkley Gulp Minnow, both in chartreuse.

The headlands have also been producing quality fish. There have been no big numbers but the quality is there with jewfish to 15kg common. Big tailor have started moving in along with trevally. Big hard-bodied lures are accounting for most of these fish with live whiting best on the beach for larger jew.


Bag-limit catches of whiting are becoming regular with the protected corners where headlands and beaches meet fishing best. Live beach worms are the best bait with fresh prawns a close second. The fish bite best on a rising tide but if they are really on the bite all tides will work.

In the river the action has been heating up with some really big whiting starting to school in big numbers. The run-out tide on a dark night is best in the deep channels or the rising tide during the day over the sandy flats.

Fishos working the flats with surface lures for whiting have been rewarded with some quality fish. Those still needing a little help should see Chris Rigg at Fully Rigged Bait and Tackle.

The north arm and the main arm of the river around Goodwood Island is still your best bet through the day with Oyster Channel the best night spot.

Pan-size flathead are being caught from Iluka to Grafton with Harwood being the pick spot. Lure and bait fishos are doing well with live herring catching the better fish.

Large soft plastic lures have been finding more jewfish than flathead at times but that will start changing now with the run of school jew nearly over.

The school jew bite best around the bridges on slack tide. Those looking for larger fish should try the deeper holes between Browns Rocks and Maclean.

Mangrove jacks are on the chew around Maclean with the average fish 1.5kg. Surface poppers have been working well with the last hour and first hour of daylight producing best results. At night live herring and mullet fished on the surface will produce the best fish.

For a good feed of crabs try well up the smaller creeks and around the cane drains. The sand crabs have been a little harder to find in big numbers but have been improving with better catches coming from the lower reaches.

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