Hotspot: Cop a few bass at Copmanhurst

Dave Barwise took this 50cm bass right opposite the launch area!

by Dayne Taylor •

This month’s kayak hotspot takes us to the rural northern New South Wales town of Copmanhurst, home to a picturesque stretch of the iconic Clarence River, and the perfect location for your next kayak fishing get away.


Although a very small town, Copmanhurst boasts a couple of options right in town and close to the water. The most popular seems to be camping along the edge of the river at the boat ramp and launching location, free of charge. There is very limited facilities, with barbeques and open fires permitted, but only in certain weather conditions and times of the year, so check with the local RFS for fire bans prior.

The showgrounds at the beginning of the dirt road down to the ramp offer powered and non-powered short term camp sites and have a toilet and shower block available for a small fee of around $5 per night. This can be arranged via the pub, who I might also add have a limited amount of motel rooms available, and put on a great lunch and dinner.

There is a small general store opposite the pub, which is good for milk, bread and the emergency necessities. For any groceries, fishing tackle, and camping supplies, you are best to grab them from Grafton on your way through, which is only a 20 minute drive.


The Clarence River stretches for almost 400km, starting in the tops of the Great Dividing Range near the NSW/QLD border and eventually meeting the ocean at Yamba on the North Coast of NSW. There are plenty of fishing options all along its course.

The water that flows past Copmanhurst is completely freshwater, and known as the last part of the Clarence River that has any tidal influence, however minimal, you will notice a small tide rise and drop throughout the day.

The main species you are likely to encounter are Australian bass, eels, catfish, and on the rare occasion some bream, flathead and the odd bull shark make their way up above the rapids. From time to time there has been captures of eastern freshwater cod in this area.

The Copmanhurst stretch of river offers many different types of fish holding structures, from rocky boulders, steep deep holes, overhanging and fallen timber and trees, weed beds and cane grass banks. These structures all offer a great variety of bait for bass to feed on.

In the summer months the cicadas are almost ear piercingly loud, meaning topwater offerings can sometimes make for almost cricket scores of fish right throughout the day. A cicada imitation cast up under a snag into the shade rarely stands a chance when they are singing. Another couple of topwater lures worth trying out are rubber frogs and walking stickbaits, but most appropriately sized topwater lures work very well in this area.

There is an abundance of bass through most of the Clarence system.
This stretch of river has some impressive overhanging rock ledges, which are great fish holding areas.
Daniel Holder working the overhangs with a surface lure in the middle of the day.
The author making his way downstream on a foggy early morning.

If they aren’t that keen on the surface lures, you can try your luck with some sub-surface offerings like a beetle spin or jighead rigged soft plastics, spinnerbaits, crankbaits or chatterbaits worked along the edges and around snags like fallen timber and boulders. I have also had some success on skirted jigs, which imitate small yabbies.

Either a spin or baitcast rod and reel in the 6-10lb and 7ft range will be sufficient to handle all scenarios, matched up with some 10-15lb line and leader material. You could even go lighter when fishing the more open grass and weed banks if necessary.

As for distances and accessible fishable water around Copmanhurst, you have virtually no boundaries. To head upstream, however, a fair amount of dragging or wheeling your yak over long stretches of shallow rapids may be required. Downstream, you can easily pedal or paddle for literally days. Approximately an hour downstream you will find the junction to the Orara River, where you can explore for hours on end.            

I sure hope this has made you eager to head to Copmanhurst for some epic bass fishing soon!