I reckon there is no better month than April to fish the Clarence Coast. The heat and humidity are behind us and those persistent nor’-easters have finally backed off.
Many species of fish start to get into spawning mode and many never let their guards down any further than they do this month.
The first run of cleanskin ‘snowy’ bream will be pushing up the river and the Browns Rocks area will have more boats parked on it than a Gold Coast boat yard, all full of fishos trying their luck at landing those big blue-nose bream.
The Middle Wall, Palmers Island and Rocky Mouth at Maclean will also produce plenty of quality bream.
Heavy vibration blades fished in the deep, fast-flowing rocky spots, and bibbed minnows retrieved over the shallow reefs and up against the rock walls will produce the goods.
After the full moon in April, the Winter run of flathead will make their first appearance. Prawns will move on the run-out tide during the night and the fish will be waiting.
Look for a high tide turning on daylight and you won't go wrong.
The Broadwater above Maclean will be a hot spot, along with the flats around Harwood Island.
The Winter lizards tend to be a bit smaller than the Summer breeders on average, but what they lack in size they more than make up for in numbers.
April will often herald the first westerlies and an early run of mullet. Large mulloway will leave the inshore reefs and enter the lower river around the new moon in search of their favourite food.
If you ever wanted to catch a really big mulloway, April is a great month to put in the effort.
The inshore reefs to the south of Yamba will also produce big mulloway now, and for the rock hoppers it’s time to dust off the trusty FSU and tie on a big lure and go searching.
The rock platforms around Yamba, Shelly Head, Redcliff, Brooms Head and the Sandon area will get the most attention.
This month more people catch their first NSW Spanish mackerel than any other month. The big fish will be hunting close to shore looking for juicy tailor, which will be heading north on their annual spawn run and filling up on the shoals of whitebait along the way.
Tailor in spawn mode have a large amount of oil (stored fat) on board. If you are not a big fan of eating them, try one that has been smoked in this condition – it may just change the way you look at tailor.
A live tailor on wire fished under a balloon off the Iluka breakwall is a great tactic for large Spaniards.
Rain over the Summer up in the Ebor region has primed the area for a ripper Autumn. All the creeks are flowing strongly and the surrounding landscape is emerald green.
I fished one of my favourite brown trout streams recently with a mate and at nearly every bend in the stream there was more water flowing into it.
The temperature in the Ebor region this month is just about perfect: Cool, crisp mornings give way to days in the mid 20°s.
One of the Dutton Trout Hatchery staff told that it had been one of the better years in terms of stocking and fish survival.
Grasshoppers are on the menu in Autumn, so make sure you have a few hopper patterns in your fly box.
If you are not into fly-fishing most of the creeks and rivers are large enough to spin small minnows and Celta-style lures.
The Ebor Pub has clean, cheap accommodation and good tucker (plus cold beer) at the end of a long day walking the creeks.
Bass can be a little more challenging this month in the Clarence catchment. They tend to leave their snaggy homes in search of prawns so they can pack on the weight for their Winter spawn run to the salt.
Soft plastics and blades retrieved along the rock retaining walls further up river, along with reed-lined banks, will be good places to try.Reads: 1518