Timely fresh does the trick
  |  First Published: November 2008

It doesn’t happen that often, but we actually got a bit of a fresh just when the Clarence needed it.

After a fairly dry few months the river fishing was starting to slow down. With good clean saltwater pushing through the river and almost to the extremities of its tributaries, the fish had certainly spread throughout the system. This little fresh was just what was needed to push the fish back down river and concentrate the numbers a little.

Rocky mouth, where the South Arm joins the Clarence at Maclean, has been playing out the same scenario every run-out tide over the past couple of weeks: Hundreds of terns and gulls can be seen wheeling and diving on prawns as they are pushed up by the current over the shallow reef.

Waiting below the surface are plenty of bream, flathead and school (but mostly soapie) mulloway. Because there is very little visibility, this is when small diving lures with loud rattles or vibration blades certainly come into their own.

Because most of the rain fell in the upper catchment and very little of it was local, there is also a plug of good salt water in the Broadwater and it is yielding some good lizards.

The fresh has also got the mud crabs on the move and, judging by the attention the pro crabbers are giving the Maclean area, I would say it would be worth your while to bait a few traps yourself. Just remember that only witches’ hats (dillies) can be used upstream of the Maclean courthouse.

The mud flats along the Lawrence Road on Woodforde Island certainly yield plenty of those tasty little school prawns after a fresh as well. If you have a registered hand haul net, this might be a good time to have a couple of digs.

November will see a better class of mulloway push up river; all my best jewies on plastics have come this month.


Offshore along the Clarence coast, this month can be still a little transitional. The strong northern currents have not kicked in to bring the tropical speedsters and our winter fishery in close is all but over.

It’s time to head out a little wider and change tactics. Snapper are still plentiful, you just need to upsize your plastics and jig heads.

It’s also undoubtedly a great time to break out those new octopus-style jigs that are becoming so popular and put them to use on the deeper reefs. It’s a great time as well to pull a large mulloway on the same reefs.

With the fresh has come a fairly good spawning run for the bass and good numbers of them have already been caught and released at the Gorge while returning back up river.

I don't think that a lot of them made it over the Gorge, though, so you can expect that the Grafton to Copmanhurst area should fish well through November.

Last year’s disastrous Summer saw next to no blue swimmer crabs caught. As long as we don't get any more follow-up rain we should see the odd bluey on the horizon. Fingers crossed that they do, because you often get some good-sized cobia coming in after them.

For more info or advice, call in and see us at Big River Bait & tackle, 16 River Street Maclean or give us a call on 02 6645 1834.

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