It's fair to say the fishing around South West Rocks has been substandard for quite some time, probably the past two years or so.
Sure, there have been some good days amid the lousy ones but by SWR standards, the fishing has been pretty average indeed.
The good news is – and we needed some! – things have improved daily as we hit high Summer.
An early push of hot water (around 25°) hit the headlands, sparking up many estuary and offshore species.
Out to sea, it fired up the local kings with good numbers of 4kg to 8kg fish biting at Fish Rock. There’ve been plenty of bigger fish, too, with quite a few around 10kg to 15kg hooked there as well.
This nice push of warm water brought cobia, with fish caught in front of Trail Bay Jail and around Green Island and Fish Rock.
With some luck they will hang around and be joined by others sweeping south during the Summer.
For game fishos keen on working the Jail Grounds, the warm water is great news. And, just as importantly, there are plenty of solid slimy mackerel holding on the reefs.
Things are shaping up nicely for a run of billfish and cobia just off the jail, just as in the good old days.
As you’d expect, the warm water slowed the snapper run but if you're mad on flicking baits and lures for reds, there's always a chance of quality fish, even in the off season.
Some of the biggest reds are caught during the warmer months, with one I recall going 13.5kg cleaned.
The key seems to be to fish early or late and work areas with plenty of baitfish.
There are great expectations of a decent run of mackerel this year. Many locals and visitors have their fingers crossed that spotted and Spanish mackerel put in a decent show this year.
The past few seasons have been pretty lousy, so with a bit of luck by the time you read this there are a few starting to show up on the northern reefs.
After the seemingly endless floods earlier in the year, we had near drought through most of Winter and Spring and then in November the skies opened again, giving much of the Mid North Coast a thorough drenching.
As annoying as it was to see the Macleay River chocolate brown again, the large fresh did fire up the local jewies.
The river mouth was the place to be, with some great fish feeding up during the run-off.
Admittedly, there were only a few days when they fired up, but if you were Johnny on the spot when they did, there was some fun to be had.
I persisted with big lures for day after day and was rewarded with one hectic session when jew from 6kg to 30kg-plus belted wayward mullet.
A mate and I ended up hooking seven but landed only two smallish fish. While we certainly didn't write any records, it was great to see some massive jewfish heads and shoulders out of the water taking bait.
The warm water pouring into the Macleay was just what the resident flathead and bream needed.
Some big flatties have sparked up, with most of the action taking place in the lower reaches. Anywhere from Jerseyville to the mouth has been well worth a shot, with good numbers of smaller fish mixed in.
Soft plastics worked along the rock walls have been very effective, though fraught with danger.
Lure losses can be high if your timing isn't spot on but the results can be great.
For a safer lure option, try heading up towards Stuarts Point and spinning the weed banks and sandy drop-offs on a run-out tide. There’s miles of good country up that way well suited to light tackle spinning and fly fishing.
Further up river, the bass are happy to feed again. It's been a frustrating year for bass fishos, as floods earlier in the year shut down many sections for months on end.
The bright side is the river heights are back to normal and there's bass biting freely again.Reads: 611