We have been blessed with some of the best summer weather in years, culminating in a holiday period which would have to have produced the busiest boat traffic ever seen on the Clarence.
Every day hundreds of visitors tried their luck on the local fish population and most holidaymakers were not disappointed.
Flathead, a summer mainstay, have been around in such huge numbers that the locals now refer to them as ‘scaly rocks’. If you fish plastics or blades at the moment, you are more likely to snag a flathead than a rock.
It heartens me to see how many folk now see large flatties as a genuine catch-and-release species. When passing on the story of a big fish caught, even the kids will more often than not finish with ‘Then we let her go!’.
The whiting were a little patchy around the spring tides but now things have settled down and they are well and truly back on the chew.
Tossing poppers at them certainly has been far more productive this season than last, and the by-catch is not half bad, either.
Anglers throwing poppers around the Maclean area have taken some good-sized GT and even the odd giant herring.
If your popper explodes off the surface and you loose 50m of light line in a heartbeat, chances are it was not a whiting!
If want to target the GT to about 4kg around the Maclean reefs, dawn and dusk are your best times. Couple this with the very first of a run out tide and your odds will improve further.
These big trevors can be flighty, though, so make as little noise as you can, stand off them a bit and cast long.
The little mulloway that have been around in plague proportions are still eating almost anything in their path, so their size has been steadily increasing and more legal fish are starting to get caught.
River school mulloway specialist Ritchie Duncan has had an absolute ball, catching and releasing plenty of good-sized fish over his summer break. Ritchie certainly has a knack of pulling better-sized jew from among the hordes of smaller fish. Vibration blades (mostly our Shake ’n’ Bake) are his weapon of choice.
The offshore scene could be best described as frustrating.
We have had a huge eddy sitting off the Clarence coast for the best part of eight weeks, sending all the warm currents straight out to sea.
Checking the CSIRO sea surface temps each day, to see Brisbane and the Tweed offshore lit up bright red and the warm water bypassing us 20-30 miles seaward is a form of slow torture.
The little inshore black marlin have almost been non-existent but a good, old-fashioned southerly buster could turn it around in no time.
There have been some spotted mackerel in Shark Bay but with the low temps they have been a day-to-day proposition and they have been shying off anything that even resembles wire.
Rob Lang from Yamba Sportfishing Adventures, in his brand-new Black Watch 40, has heading been heading wide into around 600 fathoms in search of purple water. Last time out the boys managed to tag two blue marlin around 150kg each and landed a respectable 22kg wahoo.
The bass season continues to be one of the best in several years and all the tributaries of the Clarence have fired this summer.
Most afternoon sessions have produced a dozen so good fish and a couple of good wipe-outs. This season in our area will go down as the resurgence of the hard-bodied lure and spinnerbaits have taken a bit of a back seat. Maybe the bass just wanted something different on the menu.
Many readers would be familiar with the Big River Shake ’n’ Bake blades we manufacture here, and the results they have achieved in many bream comps on the Northern Rivers over the past 12 months.
Now the Shake ’n’ Bake has a new little brother, the Kickerfish. At 40mm long and weighing 4g (1/7oz for us old-timers), it carries size 14 ST-36 Owner trebles and is made from bulletproof 1.5mm polycarbonate material and is lead-free.
Being made from clear polycarbonate allows us to do many of the more popular Japanese ‘ghost’-type patterns.
The Kickerfish underwent trials for several months before our first production run and results have been sensational – in fact, my first bream on one was 35mm fork length.
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