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Home » Fishing-Tips-Techniques » Estuary-Fishing » Brisbane River Threadfin Salmon

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Brisbane River Threadfin Salmon

By Lachlan Reed

As winter approaches, the water starts to cool and the schools of King threadfin salmon and mulloway thin out in the deeper water around the Port of Brisbane, meaning a new opportunity arises to tackle these fish.

If you have ever taken a trip up through the city reaches of the Brisbane River at night you could be forgiven for thinking no fish in its right mind would call this place home. There is plenty of hustle and bustle going on right through the night, with City cat's running back and forth and night clubs pumping music, but all of this urban development has created a unique environment for these fish to thrive.

After dark, the city lights drown out the murky waters of the Brisbane River and most people going about their business along the banks of the river are blissfully unaware of what is going on right under their feet.

As the lights switch on so do the fish!

The lights of the many ferry terminals, bridges and pontoons concentrate baitfish and prawns and the predators take full advantage of this. Over the last few years I have had some memorable sessions in the middle reaches of the river chasing these spectacular sportfish.

Each night will be slightly different and the fish will move up and down the river with the tides and baitfish. A keen eye and time on the water is needed to work these fish out fully, but I will try and help with some of the basics.


The amount of times I've been asked where I catch these fish is outstanding, however my answer is always the same - the fish are where you find them.

There is no secret spot or location and to be honest every bit of structure with light shining on the water will hold these fish at certain times. It's up to you to do the leg work and get an understanding of their habits. Anywhere with plenty of structure, light and current will have all the ingredients to produce fish.


Baitfish are the key ingredient! The first thing to look for when approaching an area to fish is surface activity. Generally you will be looking for prawns and baitfish jumping and flicking on the surface and if it's really firing you may even get a glimpse of a threadfin chasing a skipping prawn along the surface. This really gets the heart pumping!


These fish can be in different moods from one night to the next and being able to adapt to the change is very important.

First thing is to fish light.

I usually use a 3000 size threadline with no more than 20lb braid and 20lb leader and don't be afraid to go lighter if needed to get the bite. This fished over a matching 6 to 7 foot rod and you're in action.

There are 3 ways I fish for these fish.

Firstly if I can see fish actively feeding in the lights, it's time to tie on a shallow running hardbody, The Zerek Barra X Pro is my go to for this. I fish it relatively quick with barra-style twitches along the edges of the light. Some of the hits while doing this can be amazing with large threadfin taking to the air before powering off trying to wrap you up on anything they can find.

If I think the fish are feeding lower in the water column, or more so feeding on herring, I will go for the soft vibe option. The Zerek Fish Trap is perfect for this and is very versatile in the ways it can be fished and also at what depth. I generally start with a burn and kill retrieve, which entails burning the lure relatively fast and then stopping it dead every meter or so. If this doesn't induce a strike a slow hop at varying depths through the light will usually get a response.

The third option if the fish are wary is to go finesse on them and use a lightly weighted plastic like a Zerek Live Flash Minnow Wriggly or a small Flat Shad. Something in the 3 to 4" bracket is what you're looking for at these times. These lures can be worked very subtly along the edges of the light again at varying depths if needed.

World Class

This unique fishery is truly world class and everything needs to be done to preserve it. Looking after these fish after capture is part of this. Threadfin salmon in particular can suffer from scale loss and later infection if not handled properly so the use of a soft fish friendly net is advised.

Generally these fish are found in shallow water so barotrauma is not generally a problem, but if you happen to catch them in deep water, a release weight should be used to safely release these fish.

This winter is shaping up to be a good one so if you're like me and are a sucker for punishment by trying to work a full time job and fish ridiculous hours through the night, go and have a crack at these amazing city sportfish.

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