How I went about catching my first land based Brisbane River Threadfin Salmon….

Conditions: Cold
Season: Late Autumn
Strategy: Fishing under the lights on the Brisbane River
Target: Land based Brisbane River Threadfin Salmon
Gear Set Up: 6’6″ graphite baitcaster with 10lb mainline & a 30lb leader
Lure Types: Black 3″ paddletail plastics
Session Rating: 7/10

Catching a land based Brisbane River Threadfin Salmon was something I had wanted to do for a long time. I knew a few of the basics; fish under the lights, keep the lure near the surface and be ready for when these fish strike because they will wrap you around the nearest pylon. Armed with the basics, I went out a few times but was never able to land that fish of my dreams.

Knowledge is always the key

It wasn’t until I saw a live presentation from Steve Morgan – one of Australia’s best and most respected anglers that I finally learned the missing piece of the puzzle. During May and June, the temperatures drop and the baitfish push up river. Brisbane River Threadfin move out of the deep holes at the mouth of the river and also move upstream to stalk their prey under the bright lights of the city reaches.

Like most species that we target throughout the year – seasonal timing is important. Just as importantly, tidal water movements also play a big role. Threadfin love a strong water flow. They can be caught at all times during a tidal cycle but a lot of success is had on the bottom half of the outgoing. During this period of the ebb, flow is strong and it has the added benefit of narrowing the water column in which bait fish can hide along the banks under the lights.

I was now armed with the knowledge of when to better target this fish. I promised myself this year, I would definitely catch my first land based Brisbane River Threadfin Salmon. In early May, a friend of mine sent me through some photos of two separate metre plus Threadies he had caught land based from the river. I was now more fired up than ever.

Getting to know the Brisbane River

I withheld my expectations on my first couple of trips. I simply wanted to get acquainted with as many likely spots that these fish might congregate. To do this, I threw my bike in the tray of the ute, drove to different sections of the river and did some exploring. The bike came in handy because it allowed me to travel easily on the bikeways and footpaths that run alongside much of the river through the city.

After locating a potential spot, I would fish it briefly before moving on to find the next potential location. My primary goal in this early stage was to find a stretch of the river where there were a number of good spots all within short travel distance of one another. After I had mapped the areas with the most potential, I then commenced the fishing in earnest.

Managing fatigue for the night session

At first, I began my evenings at 9pm and so was getting home exhausted at around 2pm in the morning. This made for a tough day at work the next day so the following evening I had to stay home to rest. This pattern at least allowed me to get one decent night sleep in between sessions.

After a few trips with no luck though, I tweaked my sleeping routine. I found it easier to have a quick nap after work, leave a little later and fish a little longer into the wee hours. This meant I was a little more refreshed and I ended up enjoying the session a whole lot more.

Gear to catch Threadfin Salmon

Experienced Threadfin anglers tend to use big suspending hardbodies and flick them in close to structure with baitcasters loaded with heavy braid and leader. I opted instead for a small black 3” paddletail plastic to do most of my Threadfin fishing. I started on a 1/4 ounce jighead but mostly ended up using the 3/8 ounce as it handled the current better and allowed improved exploration of the deeper sections. The baitcaster I was using was spooled with 10lb braid and was finished with a 30lb leader.

The baitcaster allows accurate casting in and around structure but there were still plenty of times I ended up with the lure wrapped on tree branches, rocks and pylons. The big advantage of the plastic for me was that I was able to get it back most of the time. A little jiggle after a miss-cast and the lure usually came free without too much drama. I did lose the occasional plastic but that was far easier on the pocket than losing my more expensive hardbodies. Black coloured lures are ideal for this style of fishing as they produce a distinct silhouette in the murky water. This is important as they becomes more visible to predators, especially when viewed from below looking up into the lights.


And a Thready takes my lure

It was on about my 5th trip that my first taste of a land based Brisbane River Threadfin came. I was right in the city and the incoming tidal current was flowing hard. I cast up current and brought the lure back with the flow about a half a metre below the surface. When the hit came, I immediately knew I had hooked my first land based Brisbane River Threadfin Salmon.

The fish instantly leapt out of the water to confirm what I already knew. It went back down under taking 5m of tight line with it. I managed to pull it back to the surface where it then started to swim toward me. I quickly cast my eyes around to find a likely spot to land the fish. It was in that moment of distraction however that it pulled itself under again. It made a bee line for a nearby pylon and took a victory lap around it to saw off my 30lb leader. I was shaking with excitement and knew that this was only just the beginning……

Likely spots

I took another couple of trips, each time exploring different parts of the river to map more spots where pools of light form. Ferry stops are some of the best locations with bright lights shining directly onto the water surface. Accessing those pools of light from the bank however comes with plenty of challenges. Some stops are definitely better than others.

My First land based Brisbane River Threadfin Salmon

In late May, I was fishing a new spot for the first time. The water was lit up nicely and was easily accessible. A dozen or so casts however produced nothing for me. It had come to that proverbial “last cast” moment. I threw out and slow rolled the little paddletail back through the bright water. Quite suddenly a Threadfin Salmon charged up from below in a dirty yellow flash. It turned away from the lure at the last moment but was followed closely by a second fish which grabbed the lure in a big spray at the surface.

Once again the fish took off for a nearby pylon. My drag was set pretty tight this time and so I just hoped that the hook would not pull. I applied maximum bend on the rod and pulled it out from behind the pylon and back into open water.

It dived again but I turned it’s head and kept it thrashing at the water surface as I brought it back in toward me. I reached down grabbed the fish by the lip and triumphantly lifted my Brisbane River Threadfin from the water. It was not a big fish by any means but it was my first land based Brisbane River Threadfin Salmon and I was stoked.

If you enjoyed this article feel free to leave a comment or read more fishing posts like this at


  • Robert Scource says:

    Well done again Scout Fisher enjoy your explainations, thank you, Robert.

    • Tim Sibley says:

      Thanks Rob – always appreciate your feedback. I enjoyed writing this one as it has a more of a “how to guide” feel compared to the report style format I tend to usually put out.



  • Mike says:

    Two years ago I caught my first Brisbane River threadfin while land based in the city reaches using a similar technique to yourself: a dark coloured soft plastic retrieved near the surface. It was an enormous buzz when I caught that first fish, now you have inspired me to attempt to repeat the experience.

  • Tim Sibley says:

    Hey Mike – Mine was just a baby but they really are a fantasticly fun fish to catch – it is amazing you can get them anywhere through the city. I have been a bit slack with the report writing recently but my next article is a Brisbane River follow-up to that first Threadfin catch. Will be out in about two weeks (when I can download the photos from my phone which has been sent away to get fixed).

    I have also just finished a couple of days camping in swag around Central Queensland (Rocky/Mackay area). Got a couple of nice fish up here too so need to put that up on the site soon too.

    Be aware that even though early winter is the best time to get into Threadies in the river – I have spoken to a number of guys and they all say they can be caught year round. Good luck with the fish and let me know how you go.


  • Dave says:

    Good read mate, got some handy hints of ya and hopefully I can reply back with my own story of a catch… I’ve just started trying for a land based threadfin catch.

    • Tim Sibley says:

      Hey Dave – I’m really happy to hear you found something useful in that post. Probably the biggest take out from that should be persistence. If you keep at it – I guarantee you will eventually get one. The Mulloway and big Bream by-catch is also fun. Let me know when you nail one- Best of luck


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