Flathead front up
  |  First Published: February 2009

After a spell of sustained heavy rain that threatened to derail another summer’s fishing, the Clarence has cleared nicely and the anglers are reaping the rewards.

The ‘sand whiting on poppers phenomenon’ that Starlo and the South Coast lads bought to the forefront has showed no signs of slowing. As a result small transparent poppers are now trading at around a similar price as a barrel of oil!

Old and young alike have taken to this fun method of hunting a feed of these tasty little battlers. Anglers on the Clarence have not missed out, and good numbers of sand whiting can be taken from the mouth to up around Lawrence, and all the sandy spits hold their share.

Flathead went a little quiet with the influx of dirty water a few weeks back, but they are well and truly back on the chew. Berkley Gulp (any shape) in pumpkinseed colour has been the softy of choice. When a fresh comes down the Clarence it tends to kill the cunjevoi along the training walls, they bust open and empty their contents into the water. This is obviously a delicacy to the local fish population, and the brown pumpkinseed Gulp must closely reassemble it.

Some XOS flathead have been taken from the middle wall as you would expect at this time of the year, and most considerate anglers return these big ladies after a quick happy snap, some however are little slower to come online with modern thinking.

Reports of little soapy jewfish (mulloway) have slowed a little, as the heavy rains may have had them chasing the school prawns to sea. What remains in the river are certainly growing quickly though, with many just legal fish or better reportedly being caught.

Last summer the bass fishing on the Clarence was pretty much a wipe out, this year has been far better. I have not had a fishless trip, and many have yielded 10 or more for an afternoon session. My best is a 47cm (fork length) on a Jackall TN 60. I have even managed a few decent fish on fly, something that eluded me last summer.

After a few relatively quiet months for the local inshore fishers, February is a time to get serious again. Spotted mackerel will dominate all conversations, as will the hope of a southerly change to hold the warm water close to shore. Pink squids or trolled slimy mackerel will bring home a feed of these sometimes fussy feeders.

February will also see the numbers of juvenile black marlin at their height, and hopefully me out there chasing them. Longtail tuna will make their long awaited return this month, but some anglers find them a curse off the coast here. They will often take baits or lures destined for spotted or Spanish mackerel. I on the other hand, plan to spend many mornings with a fly rod and a good mate at the helm of my boat in hot pursuit of them!

• For more info or advice, call in and see us at Big River Bait & Tackle, 16 River St Maclean, or call us on 02 6645 1834. City prices, country service.

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