So far this season there’s been an usually large number of small ‘jellybean’ longtail tuna around, which is a good sign for the future.

Hooking big catches

If there was one single fishing related thing I hate seeing, it’s a hook or lure randomly lying on the ground waiting for someone to step on it.

Such was the case when my daughter in-law to be Rebekah Ellis walked into our garage recently and trod on a 10/0 treble that had been lying in wait for its victim.

Now, one thing’s for sure and that is when Bec does something, she does it well.

The accompanying photo shows the large 10/0 embedded as far as it could go, and what made things a whole lot worse was the angle the hook when into her foot at.

Instead of the hook going upwards into her foot, it had gone lengthways between her toes, which meant cutting the hook off and pushing it through was out of the question.

Our first port of call was the local district hospital but, after three hours of deliberation on how to remove the hook, we were told to drive to Grafton Base Hospital.

At one stage, it looked as though Bec was going to have to return home and go back the next day for surgery, which would have taken things to a whole other level.

Thankfully as a nurse and I wheeled her towards a triage room, she caught the eye of a surgeon who was getting ready to go home after a long shift.

He looked, he ummed, he ahhed, then commented that he would be happy to have a go at getting it out there and then, which Bec jumped at (so to speak) because going back the next day wasn’t an ideal scenario.

Oh, what a pain. A 10/0 treble embedded into Iluka angler Rebekah Ellis’s foot.


A young male nurse arrived with a battery-operated ring cutter and proceeded to attempt cutting the thick hook… without anaesthetic.

This sent waves of vibrations through her foot and made the pain unbearable.

Up to this point (no pun intended), it’s worth noting that Rebekah had shown only minimal signs of discomfort since walking on the hook.

Finally, a good dose of local anaesthetic was administered and the cutting continued until the piece in her foot was separated, then the doctor took over.

The doc freely admitted that he was going to ‘wing it’ as he went, given that the hook had a huge barb on it and it had to come out the same way it went in.

He turned the barb around in her foot then pressed it down as he tried to pull it out, cutting small pieces of sinew away as it was caught.

Nine hours after walking on the 10/0 treble it was all over and, after a tetanus shot and a script for antibiotics, we were on our way home.

The over-worked staff at both of the hospitals were amazing and caring, and a special thanks goes to the doctor who went the extra mile when he could have simply gone home.

Mischa with a better class of fish taken on a surface lure.


Now, onto the fishing scene here in the amazing Clarence Valley… hook

The great news is that the land-based season has been going off big time, with plenty of longtail tuna and quite a few nice spanish mackerel coming to play.

My youngest son Mischa and his friends have had a ball with tuna along the Iluka breakwall, with fish being taken most days on both live garfish and lures.

Ipswich angler Slaine Dodrill had put in long hours chasing his first tuna and was finally rewarded with a beautiful fish, which Mischa had the great pleasure of gaffing for him.

Even the small amount of freshwater that came downriver from the minor flooding on the Orara River in early April did little to stop the hot bite.

If anything, it briefly concentrated the smaller baitfish along the ocean side of the walls, which turned out to be a bonus rather than a hinderance.

Every four to five years, we get a run of juvenile longtail tuna of 7-10kg, and this appears to be one of those years, which hopefully augurs well for the species in years to come.

The offshore brigade has also been getting among the mackerel and tuna off our coastline, from Wooli’s Minnie Water in the south to Black Rocks near Esk in the north.

Ipswich angler Slaine Dodrill was ecstatic to land his first longtail tuna, which Mischa had the pleasure of gaffing for him.


Local boatie Shane Upton has been taking his son Codey out and having a ball, landing both spanish and spotted mackerel along with the occasional tuna, when sea conditions permitted.

By all accounts, May should continue in the same vein before the cooler weather sets in towards the end of the month, with big pelagic returning to the north’s warmer waters until next year.

Main Beach Iluka has continued to yield quality tailor on flesh bait, while good choppers are also to be had spinning metal slugs from the headlands, with the Bluff and Frazers Reef being the two most productive locations recently.

Mischa spun the southern end of the Iluka Bluff with a 14cm Rapala X-Rap lure and 30lb Platypus hi-test line and was rewarded with a solid 24kg jewfish.

Going by the quantity of scales on the walking track, it’s obvious that many anglers have had success there too.

All things being equal, we hope to have landed our first river jewfish of the season by the first week of May, as the mullet spawning season should be in full swing.

Decent whiting catches in the river are far and few between, which is to be expected at this time of year.

However, having said that, those in the know have their secret spots on most of the rivers here on the far north coast, which enable them to catch honker whiting year-round.

Off the beach at Shark Bay, good bags of pan-sized tailor have been taken near the second wash-out, while further north towards Black Rocks, nice school jew of about 7kg have been landed using beachworms.

Swallowtail dart are also in decent numbers at both Shark Bay and Back beaches, along with the occasional big tarwhine and bream, with the best tide being a making in late evening.

This month, have a few casts with a 14cm shallow-running minnow lure at the T-Piece on the Yamba wall on any slack high water after dark.

This spot holds large numbers of flat tail mullet all winter and it is without doubt the number one spot to fish off the rocks.

I say it every year, but the best way to find where the jew are feeding at night during winter is to keep all forms of light off the water and let your ears do the work.

Trust me, you will hear them boofing from miles away. hook

All in all, if you can’t get a feed this month, I reckon you’re not trying.

Just about every species will be on the chew before winter comes, so get out there and get among them.

Until next month, safe fishing.

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