Estuary a wash-out
  |  First Published: February 2008

This has been the worst fishing in the river we have seen for many years. With a constant flow of dirty water coming downstream, it has been hard to crack a pattern.

The big high tides are the best times to be fishing with some clean water pushing up-river and improving the fishing. Among the few spots that have been fishing consistently are the river mouth and Oyster Channel.

Mud crabs have been on the march with some good catches reported up-river. Harwood and Maclean have been the best spots to start for the muddies but you might need to line up for one of the good spots to put your trap.

The sand crabs have been a lot harder to find and are only really active on the top of the big high tides around the river mouth and up Oyster Channel.

What happened to the mackerel? It was looking so good last month with lots of bait and the water temp rising and a few early fish were caught and then nothing more showed up.

The water temp is still rising and the bait is still in Shark Bay so we can only hope that the mackerel are late this year. This might be one of those years when fishos who are good at live-baiting for mackerel get the best catches, especially if the fish get fussy.

Tailor are about with the open beaches and headlands holding small schools of choppers. If you find the bait then the choppers are generally not far away.

The Iluka breakwall and Woody Head have had the best of the quality fish with strips of bonito and large sea gar the best baits.

Jewfish of 10kg to 20kg are coming from the beaches with live mullet the No 1 bait. With the big seas over the holidays and all the dirty water coming out of the river, the jew have well and truly been on the chew on the beaches.

But the river has been extremely slow with only the occasional fish, compared with last year at this time when we experienced one of the best seasons ever with some trips producing six to 10 fish.

This year has been very slow in the river with those live-baiting at night getting the best of the action.


Whiting are on the chew and the beaches fished well over the holidays. The protected corners of the beaches in the afternoon and the open beach gutters in the morning have produced good fishing. Bag-limit catches are coming to those using live beach worms or fresh pipis.

The river has also seen good whiting fishing with Oyster Channel and Lake Wooloweyah the hot spots with live worms, yabbies and fresh prawns. During the day lure fishos are landing some big whiting on fizzers and poppers fished over the shallow sand banks around the entrance to lake Wooloweyah.

I am amazed that it has taken so long for this style of fishing to become popular. For more than three years I have written about the action on the flats in Summer and have been fishing this way since my grandfather showed me how over 30 years ago.

Still today it is the best place to fish without a crowd. Maybe it is just too much hard work for most to try.

A lot of locals believe it is time for more Waterways officers to police the Clarence River. Large numbers of people using the river over the holidays have no idea on the basic rules of the water it was amazing there were no major accidents.

If common sense was a little more common then we probably would not have any problems.

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