Inshore snapper heaps of fun
  |  First Published: October 2006

Everyone, even the rock fishos, has been talking about big snapper. They started biting right on time this year with some good fish to 6kg landed from the inshore reefs.

Even the rock fishos got action with many of the headlands south of the Clarence producing good fish. Those fishing from the rocks at Woody Head unfortunately didn’t see any of the large fish but were still able to land a steady run of 1kg to 3kg snapper.

This month we should see a steady run of big snapper in the shallows with fish over10kg possible. Those targeting snapper on soft plastics will find any of the chartreuse or lumo lures will produce best.

Those having trouble finding quality jig heads that don’t break need to stop looking and try this: Place a small sliding sinker of the required weight on your line, tie on a strong short-shank hook. It must have no offset or the lure will spin. Place the plastic on the hook, taking care to keep the hook in the centre of the lure. To ensure the lure stays in place you make certain the lure covers the eye of the hook and the knot.

If keeping the lure in place becomes a problem, bind a keeper wire on your hook before going fishing. This allows you to fish with heavy hooks and much heavier line classes to stop those big snapper when fishing shallow reefs and kelp beds.

The school jew in the river have been a bit hot and cold over the past few months but the signs indicate better times ahead. Several of my trips lately have not produced any school jew in the recognised hot spots but there have been no baitfish.

Those fishing the beaches and rocks, however, have told a different story with good fish to 15kg taken regularly from Iluka Bluff and Main Beach. Strips of bonito and fresh mullet have been the hot baits with large diving lures working around the headlands.


Whiting are starting to show in some of the traditional spots with Oyster Channel and the North Arm producing best. Fish these areas on a run-out tide at night with fresh worms or yabbies.

For those taking the kids out for the day, try chasing the diver whiting schooled up in the main river along Freeburn Island. These fish are only small but there are thousands of them and when you find a school you will catch them as fast as you can bait your hook. Good baits are worms, yabbies, prawns but I prefer small strips of squid that stay on the hook and will catch two or three fish before I need to rebait.

Flathead have still been active up river with the Broadwater and Maclean producing the best catches. Harwood bridge started to fish well last month and I expect the fish to move down the river this month. Places worth trying for pan-size flathead are the sand flats around Freeburn Island, Oyster Channel and the North Arm. Those looking for larger fish will find the Middle Wall, Collis Wall and Palmers Island productive by jigging soft plastic lures.

Those big bream are still up river with some quality fish coming from Grafton. These fish should stay in these areas now and produce some excellent fishing if you can get past the bass. Last trip up-river was frustrating with more perch, bass and trevally than bream in some spots but it definitely made for some exciting fishing and, on light tackle, a couple of good smokings.

So if bass or bream are your choice then upstream is where you need to try with many outstanding fish in the area between Maclean and Grafton, with the Coldstream River fishing best in the late afternoons for bass.

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