Thanks to everyone for covering for me last issue, it was a month I would rather forget.
August is the month that we pretty much dedicate to the pursuit of snapper on soft plastics over any of the inshore reefs on the Clarence coast.
Early mornings are greeted with a biting cold westerly off the land that usually abates to turn into glassed-out days.
The snapper, along with some decent pearl perch, are in very close.
We usually target depths between 6m and 30m using jig heads anywhere from 1/6oz to 1/2oz.
Although the plastics are great, there doesn't seem to be any species of fish that will not have a go at a vibration blade.
Local Mark Mulligan has been using our larger Shake N Bake blades as substitutes for Bay Rubbers and other slow jigs and is having some success.
Mark dropped the 1/2oz version down to the bottom, lifted it a couple of turns and dropped it in the rod holder. With a bit groundswell around, the boat did the work and it produced his best fish of the day.
By the time you read this, I will be giving it a go myself.
I think even a lifelong local here would struggle to remember a year when the headlands ever fished so well for a prolonged spell.
The tailor have almost been a constant all year, August may see run of salmon crash the party, but if you scale down the gear and treat them as fun fish and throw them back, the sambo can save a lacklustre session.
The numbers of people throwing soft plastics around the headlands is increasing rapidly to the point where it is almost on the brink of being a craze here.
With the new breed of graphite rods like the Daiwa Sensor Surfs and Sea Jiggers becoming more popular, the tactic has certainly opened my eyes to the amount of school mulloway that can be caught using this method.
And just like fishing plastics in the river or on the inshore reefs, the by-catch can be just as much fun as the intended species.
Finally, a reasonably dry Winter has the Clarence River in tip-top condition.
We were spared much of the rain that hit the North Coast late in June and the river has good clean saltwater to Grafton and beyond.
This is a bit of a mixed blessing because the bream have being playing hard to get, especially in the lower system around Yamba. Daytime lure fishos are finding action a little slow side, while the night bait fishers are cleaning up.
The Clarence ABT will be here around the time this hits the stands and the boys will be burning plenty of fuel during their pre-fish because the bream are certainly spread out. The top anglers relish the challenge, though, and the cream always rises on the Clarence.
I was discussing flathead tactics with a customer the other day when I was reminded of a soft plastic method that I had not used for some time.
I am often asked why Starlo and Bushy made the Squidgy Fish and the Shad – aren't they the same?
Not at all. First thing you notice is that the Shad is made from a much tougher grade of plastic, so it can handle being ‘whipped’ without falling down the jig hook. The Fish was designed for a more subtle presentation.
I must admit that some years back when Starlo first brought this South Coast method up here, I was doing the ‘one eyebrow raised’ expression as he explained it to me.
Once we hit the water and put the method into action, both eyebrows evened up and were raised in unison.
It’s no secret that like most rivers on the east coast, the Clarence is at its coolest in August. Flathead are around in huge numbers but are often reluctant to bite in this clear, cold water.
This is where the ‘whipping the shad’ method excels. It involves using a fast-action rod 2.1m or longer, 4kg to 6kg range is good and a long two-handed butt is useful.
Jig heads also tend to be a bit heavy. Even in shallow water we use 3/8oz to 1/2oz heads and Squidgy Shads of 75mm to 100mm.
Cast the plastic far up onto the flats where the lizards will be basking, allow it to hit the bottom, point the rod directly at the lure and wind in the slack line ’til you feel the weight.
Then, as fast you can, accelerate the rod tip back to about 12 o'clock, hold a slight pause, then continue the rod tip back to about 3 o'clock.
Slowly wind up the slack as the lure falls back to the bottom and repeat until a flathead nails it.
The theory of why this method works so well is that with the fish being so lethargic that a normal presentation is not enough to twist their cranks, the plastic being whipped past them ignites a predatory response without giving them time to think.
It’s much the same as when sleeping dog could not careless about a cat tiptoeing past it, but if the same cat ran past it making a ruckus, the dog would likely give chase.
I am not positive the theory is correct. I can say with confidence, however, that the method certainly works – get out and give it a go.
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