Hopes for a bumper season
  |  First Published: May 2005

The previous two months have produced good early Autumn fishing and fingers crossed this will continue into winter and give us a bumper season.

Over recent weeks the Iluka breakwall has produced some spectacular fishing for northern bluefin tuna in the hottest season for a long time, with the best days producing up to 20 hook-ups.

It was hard not to hook a tuna on these days, with many tailor fishos getting spooled.

Some mornings the tuna were on the attack early and the bait was spooky and hard to catch. On these mornings the experienced fishos just changed tactics and used surface poppers.

The popper has become the most successful style this year with most of the successful anglers now choosing the easier fishing style of sight-casting to the tuna.

Using poppers allows fishos to sleep in between tuna raids, as long as they have good fishing mates to wake them up.


Unfortunately, good eating-size flathead have been hard to find in the lower reaches of the Clarence River. Most of the fish have been undersize or over 60cm or 70cm, with many anglers complaining of catching too many big fish.

Those who ventured upstream managed to find a good class of fish around a kilo. Live herring was the bait of choice and those who found the bait found the fish also.

The ocean headlands have started producing big luderick to 1.6kg with cabbage weed the preferred bait. Some big fish have been taken by those using worms for bait and fishing close to the rocks.

With the days starting to cool down the fish will start to show along the walls in the lower reaches. Those taking the time to collect quality black weed will get the best of the fishing with several big blackfish taken already on the Middle Wall on black weed.


I had the pleasure of recently taking out Victorian ABT and AFC fisho Adam Royter chasing jewfish. We found the jew but the only problem was Adam could not wait and I missed out on getting a line in the water.

I was explaining to Adam that when the bream bite slows down and stops, the jewfish usually come on the bite.

The bream bite had stopped for us and we had not had a bite for three or four casts so I said it was time to change over to larger plastics and target the Jew. so I wound in my line.

But Adam was already down deep with his lure and didn’t even give me a chance to change lures. All I heard was, "I’m on!" and then the drag on Adam’s reel screaming.

We manoeuvred the boat away from dangerous snags and Adam began to fight the jewfish. Each time he brought it to the boat the fish would make a big run back to the bottom and test out Adam’s bream gear, which comprised a Berkley Gulp 3" Minnow stickbait in smelt colour, 8lb leader, a new Berkley Drop Shot rod and Mitchell reel.

After a good 10-minute fight he showed all the skills and patience needed to land a 5kg Clarence River school jew.

Round two began the next afternoon when Adam again was the first to hook up on a jew. This one was not as big as the previous day’s but it showed how fast a skilled fisho like Adam can work out a river he has never fished before.


Big sea-run bream are now on the headlands and beaches, with fish to 1.6kg. Fresh mullet strips and Berkley Gulp lures are accounting for most of the big fish.

Iluka Bluff and the Iluka Breakwall have had the best of the fishing with many of these fish moving into the mouth of the river on the run-in tide.

Those fishing after dark in the river are starting to produce good bags on live herring.

Lure-casters are having good results from Maclean to Brushgrove with the Coldstream River producing the best fish. Hard and soft lures are working well with surface fizzers producing the best fish.


We are now into the last few weeks of quality mackerel fishing so make the most of it. It was good to see them here in big numbers this year and we can only hope this will continue into next season.

For those wishing to chase the last of the big Spanish mackerel, now is definitely the time for the big fish to be on the chew. Spots to try are Black Rock at the northern end of Shark Bay, the front of Woody Head and The Bluff.


Over Easter we experienced some of the best daytime tailor fishing in years. Some days up to 30 anglers were spinning the gutters of Shark Bay and returning with full bags.

One particular day when the tailor where thick and fish being hooked every few casts was ruined by a school of northern bluefin tuna that decided they wanted in on the action.

Fortunately for one fisho, a tuna made a bad decision and hooked up. After a long fight up and down the beach, this bloke became one of very few anglers to successfully catch a northern bluefin tuna from the beach.

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