River salmon thrills
  |  First Published: August 2005

This is the fifth year lately that we have seen large schools of big salmon find their way into the Clarence River.

Some of these fish are pulling the lie-detector down to 4kg or even more. These fish have also been thrilling anglers with their aerial displays and those using light soft-plastic spin gear are finding them one of the best fighting fish in the river at this time of year.

Many fishos have reported salmon hook-ups while fishing for bream, with Browns Rocks and Collis Wall the most productive spots. Some of the most successful lures have been the Atomic 3" Jerk Minnow and the Berkley 3" Minnow.

But if you’re serious about hooking one of these fish you should have a spin stick rigged with a small chrome lure ready to go at all times.

With the last good moon for this year’s bream season now past on July 21 the bream start to taper off. There will still be some good resident fish to catch but most of the big sea-run bream will start to move on.

Those fishing the beaches will still find good fish up to 1.5kg over the next month but there won’t be so much luck for those fishing the river. Those competing in the ABT BREAM event might find the quality fish well upstream – as far as Grafton – so be prepared to travel.

The only thing that will stop the bream from moving back upstream now is good rain, which was falling at the time this went to press. Those wishing to find a feed will find Browns Rocks and Maclean the best spots to try with plenty of fish from 25cm to 30cm around. The best tide for these areas is the run-in tide at night when the air temperature drops to single figures.

Lure-casters will find the Atomic Jerk Minnow, Berkeley PowerBait and Berkeley Gulps will produce the most consistent catches, especially in brown and green colours.

But remember, if you want big fish, use bigger lures. My favourite at the moment is the Atomic 6" Finesse Worm in appleseed or pumpkinseed.


Live mullet and big hard-body lures, that’s what you need if you are serious about catching big jew. Squid, octopus, tailor, mullet, luderick, bream, bonito, yellowtail and soft plastic lures all work but big fish need big, quality baits and lures.

The hardest part about chasing these big fish is making sure you are early enough to get the best spot.

Best tides to fish are the slack high tide in the river at night and the low tide on the headlands during the day or night.

The hot spots for the lure fisho are the Iluka Bluff and Woody Head, with reports of jew from 10kg to 28kg taken on big lures.

In the river and off the beach, a live mullet is your best option with a high, slack tide at night the best time to be fishing. In the river, the spots to try are Collis Wall, Middle Wall, the Turkeys Nest, the T-Piece and the Iluka Breakwall.


There have been consistently good catches of blackfish for those in the know.

The local luderick fishos who use black weed as bait in the lower reaches have outfished the rest lately.

Over the past month there was a smaller run of fish than earlier, with the average fish around 600g.

The best of the fishing was from the ocean headlands again with fish as big as 1.5kg. With more fish moving further upstream, Maclean is now the place to be and the lower sections of the river are starting to show fewer fish. Black weed is still the best bait to use.



Rodney Braisen with a monster jew taken on a lure from Woody Head.


Etienne Decelus with some prime Clarence River bream.


Kate Cootes shows the boys how to catch the big ones.

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