Bass heading upstream
  |  First Published: August 2009

A few centuries ago Sir Isaac Newton wrote his mathematical hypothesis on gravity, loosely based on ‘what goes up, must come down’. Here on the Clarence, the opposite is taking place.

The bass that came ‘down’ to spawn in huge numbers are now heading back ‘up’ and anglers who chase bream in the river at this time of year are being pleasantly surprised by some very large by-catch bass.

All rivers are closed to the taking of bass until August and any fish caught have been carefully released (including the ones photographed here).

Over a two-week period during August there were hundreds of big bass caught and released on the coffee rock reef at the bottom of the South Arm at Maclean.

Fish of 45cm fork length barely raised a mention. Best confirmed fish was 55cm fork length, but plenty of 50cm-plus models were also released.

Blade baits, Jackall Deep Chubbies and the new Berkley MF40 soft vibration baits have all taken their fair share.

The rock walls along Palmers Island have been fishing very well for bream, with the odd bass and estuary perch thrown in to pleasantly surprise lure-tossers.

Browns Rocks and the training walls down-river have been the venues for the best bream fishing.

Flathead have been sparse this Winter. The most consistent area over the past few weeks has been the flats opposite the Harwood sugar mill and upstream in front of the Harwood Hilton, and upstream on the reef just inside the South Arm.

September should see the concentration of flathead increase. Expect good numbers around Lawrence and Brushgrove.

After one of the largest spawn runs seen in years, due to the massive floods, the bass will be heading back upstream, feeding voraciously on prawns as they go.

Find the front edge of the tide for the best results. The mouths of the cane drains are all worth a few casts, especially if any water is running out of them. The drains to bass are almost like run-off barra; the smallest amount of flow will have them hanging around.

Some very big mulloway have been taken over the past couple of weeks, the biggest a 32.5kg monster taken from the beach at the northern end of Brooms Head.

September will see plenty of the recognised spots fire up for school mulloway, especially places like the very end of the Middle Wall, Oyster Channel bridge, Browns Rocks, Harwood bridge and the rocky reefs around Maclean.

By the end of September the mud crabs will be on the move, with the deep water around Ulmarra the best place to start.


The wattles are in full bloom – that means it's snapper time!

I don't think there is a better month than September for the small-boat fisho to get amongst some quality reds.

The water clarity has improved markedly over the past few weeks and by the time you read this all the inshore reefs will be in full swing.

A tip is to look for LFB lobster trap floats; snapper inhabit the same ground as the lobbies.

The whale migration has been full swing and it’s a good idea to remember that cobia will often accompany them on their journey. A soft plastic or a live bait cast well ahead will often bring a big cobe undone.

This month is the pick for jigging off the Clarence coast. The wrecks and the wide reefs will be holding plenty of kings and samson so if you throw in the chance of snaring a few pearlies and snapper, the effort involved is all worthwhile.

With a lot of species, the biggest fish seem to come at the end of the their run and this is certainly true for tailor. This month we will see the heaviest fish caught.

Throw in some very big salmon and there is some fun to be had on lures and baits.

I think it is fair to say that the fishing on the Northern Rivers can be tough in September, because the water is still very cold.

The Winter bite is slowing but put in a little extra effort in, and the results can be very rewarding.

For all the latest info call in and see us at Big River Bait & Tackle, 16 River Street, Maclean, phone 02 6645 1834 – country service with city prices.

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