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A new kid in town? Sort of! With Dizzy taking a well-earned break, I’ve been asked to take the Clarence helm for a stint.
Allow me to introduce myself: I cut my teeth on Hawkesbury/Nepean bass as I grew up in Sydney’s west, did the full ANSA trip (land-based and small boat game), went mad for trout on fly for nearly 10 years (nearly bought the tweed jacket and hat!), moved on golden perch and Murray cod when Windamere Dam was the rising star and started to mix my love for fishing and woodworking to produce some timber lures. With my wife, Cheryl, we started Deception Lures.
Eleven years ago we relocated the family to Maclean on the Clarence, sold Deception Lures five years ago and opened Big River Bait & Tackle.
And here I am, taking on this column in what would have to be six months of the most unsettled weather ever experienced on the Northern Rivers.
The Clarence has had more freshes than any time in those but the fishing has been surprisingly good.
After the prolonged wet I think nearly every bream in the river headed for the sea and fattened nicely on the school prawns that left with them. When they returned they were in better nick than the sea-run ‘snowies’ that turn up at this time, making this one of the best bream winters for quite a few.
The rain meant a steady start to our winter flathead run. Every time the action starts to heat up, more fresh.
With the majority of rain falling high in the catchment and very little local rain recently, there is a plug of saltwater in the Broadwater above Maclean that is holding plenty of good-sized lizards.
The best results have been about two hours before top tide.
This month will see the best of the winter flatties and around the full moon you will find the fish out of the main flow. The flats around Harwood and opposite Palmers Island are good places to start.
Ten days after the full moon, the tide will turn to run out on daylight, the prawns will lift from the mud and move and the flathead and anglers will be waiting.
I have been around this recreational fishing game a fair few years now and still I am constantly amazed at some of the directions it can take.
If someone had of told me six months ago I would be selling more vibration blades than packets of soft plastics, I would have told them they needed their head read!
Then again, I also told the Berkley rep that Gulp would never take off – who on Earth would want soft plastics that dry out? He still reminds me of that.
We regularly have customers who come into the shop wanting to catch their first bream on a soft plastic. Most of the time their gear is inadequate and they lose interest quickly, not being able to present the plastic correctly.
The heavier blades certainly don’t require the finesse needed to coax a decent bream and nearly all of the people who have given the blades a try have had instant success.
I certainly had Blades marked as a ‘yoyo season’ – over in a few months – but as the species list continues to grow to include Mulloway over 10kg, maybe again I have underestimated a new angling style.
If you are the ‘glass half-full’ type of angler then the bright side of this winter is that all the miserable weekend weather we have encountered has left most of the inshore reefs almost untouched. When fishos have gotten out, catches have been fantastic.
The amount of 6kg -plus snapper caught, especially on soft plastics, has been amazing.
August usually has stable weather so the snapper should only get better. Add pearl perch in close to spawn and a good smattering of trag and there is plenty to be optimistic about.
If there is one species here synonymous with August it would have to be the kingfish.
There’s no better way to find out how unfit you really are than a stint on a jig rod in 80m. At least the big leather jackets give you a break every 10 minutes to re-rig after yet another bite-off!
The Clarence coast starts take on a touch of spring in the latter half of this month, so it’ll be time to dig out the bass lures. Bring it on!
• For all the latest info call in and see us at Big River Bait & Tackle, 16 River St, Maclean, phone 02 6645 1834 – country service with city prices.