River Rundown
  |  First Published: October 2008

The Brisbane River is an amazing fishery; I know I keep making that statement but this river never ceases to amaze me. Most creeks and river systems around the southeast region have definite seasonal patterns for specific fish species but it seems that the mouth of the Brisbane River is quite different.

Species like threadfin, snapper, flathead, estuary cod, jew, and bream have now made the mouth of the river their permanent home and never seem to leave this food-rich environment.

The mouth has definite peak fishing times, but they are when the river experiences flushing rains (this can happen any time) or the annual prawn migration (which seems to be getting later and longer for the past five or so years) and they are not from seasonal patterns. Yes, I know some anglers would question this statement but over the years of fishing the river I’ve found that the river maintains constant populations of the above-mentioned species and unless the mouth of the river is in flood, on any given day they are generally easy to catch.

In the following I will outline a brief overview of these species and where I target them around the mouth of the river.


Threadfin are the species that I target more than any other species in the river these days. I like to target them deep along the front edge and in eddies caused by shipping terminals. I fish just about every terminal from Breakfast Creek to the mouth and usually catch them on the down current side of the structure where they school.

I like to find them on the sounder and bounce artificial offerings on their heads to induce a response. I know this may sound very basic but that’s how easy threadfin have become to catch. Most anglers that I talk to that fish the river on a regular basis have cracked the pattern and constantly catch these awesome fish.


Snapper were the species that I targeted on nearly a daily basis for years before the threadfin decided to call the river home. I still target them for fun but metre long threadies are hard to beat.

I like to target snapper deep, 30-50ft, around the shipping terminals and rock ledges towards the mouth. At times they will move as far up stream as the Hamilton stretch of the river but generally the Gateway Bridge to the mouth is their current home range.

Snapper in the river hold very tight to structure along the shipping terminals, with the best being the main loading terminal on the southern side of the river opposite Luggage Point. However, this is where the majority of the ships unload and getting a decent stretch to drift along can be hard with the amount of ship traffic.

The best rock ledge is the one opposite Claras Rock. This ledge runs between the green floating channel marker and the yellow cardinal (flasher), which is opposite to the large red channel marker on the end of Claras Rock. This rock ledge has near vertical faces with very steep inclines for near 300m. I generally target snapper in the river on Jackall Masks in the 60 and 70s or Ecogear VT65s.


I have spent many, many hours targeting jew in the river and in the early days they were my first ever fishing addiction. When I first started to target them I’d throw live bait, then I moved to throwing barra style lures, and finally I moved to plastics, and of which have produced varied success.

Jew can be found in the same areas as the snapper and threadies, yet nowadays it is not a common catch. Years ago you would be able to catch three or four jew a night but recently the threadies have been the dominant species.

The best spots for jew that I’ve found are Claras Rock (the red channel marker), the Gateway Bridge and the mouths of both Breakfast and Norman creeks. Jew will however show up in the most unusual places so I am always expecting the unexpected with this species. Usually the day before and a few days after good flushing rains hit the mouth of the river are the peak time to target sizeable numbers.

Estuary Cod

Estuary cod is another species that’s usually seasonal in most parts of Australia but around the mouth of the river the population never seems to diminish. They inhabit every possible structure in the river and readily take baits or artificial offerings.

The best areas to catch these river cod are all out of bounds underneath the terminals but the smaller cod, up to 4kg, live along all of the rock wall that line the river and around the fronts of most terminals.


Bream are like the cod; they inhabit any available structure around the mouth and are most responsive towards the end of summer around late February early March when the prawn schools seem to be at their peak.

Over the last few years the bream have schooled around the mouth several times throughout the year and, like the prawns, they can be very unpredictable in their preferred locations. One day they can be sitting shallow along the retaining walls and the next day they will move deep along the rock ledges and will even move structure and depth throughout a single tide.


Flathead are in season around the southeast throughout October and November. Their numbers will slightly increase around the mouth of the river, but not quite in the magnitude that is seen in the creeks and river systems to the north and south of the Brisbane.

The mouth of the river, unless in flood, has great numbers of flathead and even better areas to target them. The best spots are around the flats in front of the oil pipeline at Boggy Creek, the ‘gut ways’ that empty the flats north of Luggage Point, the flats around the mouth of Bulimba Creek and the drains around the Boat Passage. All these areas work best on the bottom of the falling tide when the small drains become exposed and the flathead move off the flats and position themselves in the drains to ambush the fleeing bait.

Most of the best areas around the mouth need to be accessed on foot because of the depth of water but their numbers will make it well worth getting out of the boat.

The best way to find most of the productive rock walls, drains and terminals is to have a drive around on a very low tide and mark where the drains and sunken walls lie and return on the right tide to fish them.

The river

With all species that I target in the river, I continually keep moving from spot to spot drifting along the terminals in search of the fish. I have found that on any given day the fish will be in different locations, they seem to be continually moving from terminal to terminal. Therefore, continually moving is the key to consistently catching good numbers.

I see so many anglers sitting in the one spot hoping that the fish will swim past their baits; I was taught many years ago by my old mate Laurie Evans that you have to take your bait to the fish if you want to keep catching them. Just something to thing about…

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