River bream are in training
  |  First Published: May 2009

In recent times the Clarence has received a minor flood followed by at least four smaller freshes and the poor fish don't know whether they are coming or going.

Every time the salt starts too forge its way back upstream, down comes another lot of fresh water and sends the fish back down the river and out to sea.

One thing is for sure, all this swimming has made for some very well-conditioned bream. As I pen this, the salt has pushed back up past Maclean and there are good bream and flathead to be found as far up as Brushgrove.

June will see the start of our Winter flathead run, when the Broadwater above Maclean will yield thousands of lizards over the coming months.

A good tip is plan your trip around 10 days after the new moon; the prawns in the Broadwater will go to mud on the bigger tides and as the run gets smaller they will lift and leave the lake.

You will have the start of the run-out tide on daybreak and the flathead and bream will be waiting for them.

All the dirty water pouring out of the river has certainly tested the patience of the offshore fishos. The Spanish and spotted mackerel had just started to fire and now they have disappeared again.

Longtail tuna are another species which makes its presence felt at this time of year on the Clarence coast and I’d receive at least six phone calls a week from land-based game anglers from all parts of the country anxious to know if there has been any sighting of these tenacious speedsters.

Even though they usually don't particularly like the discoloured water, there have been a few about.

Most of the captures have been in the Woody Head/Shark Bay area north of Iluka and some have been south around Shelly Headland, with incidental catches on soft plastics meant for snapper.

There is still time for a decent longtail season for the Iluka wall devotees, but any more rain though may put an end to that.


We live in a world where the next generation seems to spend an inordinate amount of time repairing the damage done by generations past.

Feral fish and animals now roam our land and rival native species in habitat. Trout are one such species to come under the pump with several green groups calling for their eradication, at least from national parks.

I have a confession to make: I love trout!

I love the places they live, I love their striking colours and markings and I love fly fishing for them.

Many years ago I lived in the Southern Highlands and spent most weekends for the best part of a decade travelling throughout the Monaro region in pursuit of trout.

When we relocated to the North Coast I was told about the trout fishery in the Ebor region, just a couple of hours up the mountains.

A few unsuccessful trips saw only a handful of little par-marked chaps that would fit into the palm of my hand. Admittedly, the area was pretty drought-affected.

Rain has been kind over the past few years to the Ebor/Armidale region and with all my coastal options less than desirable, I thought it time to revisit the trout thing – and am I glad I did!

With a fly-fishing mate, we packed the 4WD and headed for the hills with a topo map in hand and over three weekends we caught and released over 40 rainbows to around a kilo and encountered a handful of bigger fish that knew their environment better than we did.

With all the hype that surrounds bream, bass and barra and the successful competitions built around them, trout are a little out of fashion in the sportfish stakes. Many small communities along the Great Divide rely on tourism dollars generated by travelling anglers fishing for them.

I fear if we don't use the fishery there will be no argument put forward for restocking when the conservation groups apply the blowtorch.

The season finishes on the Queen’s birthday weekend and reopens for the long weekend in October.

For all the latest info call in and see us at Big River Bait & Tackle, 16 River Street, Maclean, or phone us on 0266451834. Country service with city prices.

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