Spring has well and truly sprung and all those traditional warm-weather species are starting to put in a show, especially in the river systems.
The exciting blue water pelagic scene is a little way off yet, but you can rest assured there are bound to be some much-anticipated northern speedsters starting to head down the coast. Mackerel, wahoo, marlin and the rest are now building up in numbers over the Queensland border, with early signs of good numbers of fish up around the Central Queensland and heading south.
Whilst this is all getting a little ahead of ourselves, it does give you hope for the upcoming game season.
But at present there are good numbers of snapper and kingfish. Both are traditionally cool-water species but they always seem to fire right at the end of the season.
Spring is by far the best time of year to target both species on the Mid North Coast.
At the moment there are great reports of big snapper on the northern reefs, with anywhere from Grassy Heads to Nambucca well worth a shot.
Try to stick in depths from 20m to 40m. Most guys around here still use bait and will a little patience and a steady but small flow of berley, you should see some fish move into the trail.
Those flicking lures are hitting the reefs nice and early, working the shallow areas just on dawn and slowly trying some of the deeper reefs as the sun gets up a tad.
Anglers keen on big kingfish could do a lot worse than head down to Fish Rock or Black Rock this month.
I've seen some scary kings around both these locations at this time of year. Usually they're rounding up the schools of salmon, but if the salmon are scarce belting away at shoals of sauries seems to be their alternative.
The key for anglers keen to catch a good king on a lure is to get there and just look around for a while. Don't cast, just drift around looking for signs of fish activity.
You may see just one lone turn hovering, or perhaps some periodic lazy swirls.
Other days you'll arrive and be confronted by packs of solid kings churning the water in lazy but powerful strikes. On these days it's pretty easy to work out where to throw your poppers!
Those using live baits tend to be a bit more experimental, often sending them down and drifting randomly in the hop of finding fish. This method, though a little less visually exciting, certainly works.
Closer to shore, there are still a few good schools of tailor hugging the headlands. Shore-based and boat anglers are getting them using everything from the traditional ganged hooks and pilchards to more exciting methods with small surface lures and slices.
Dawn and dusk are prime tailor times but you can nearly always score a few tailor at any time of day once you find the schools.
Bream are still on the headlands in good numbers, with some quality fish coming in from around Green Island and North Gap. If you like your tailor and bream fishing, I suggest you get out among them sooner rather than later, as rising water temps will soon slow both species to a crawl.
In the Macleay River the warming conditions have stirred up the local flathead populace. Already there have been some big fish hugging the lower walls, with some over 5kg caught recently.
While this is a tad early for these big breeding females, it's obvious the conditions are getting close to ideal for them. The warmer the water becomes, the more of these big fish we can expect to see in the more rocky locations.
If you're more interested in scoring a feed of the much more tasty smaller flatties, you'll find pretty good numbers on the shallow, weed-strewn tidal flats up around Stuarts Point.
Bream numbers have been terrible and with the number of traps set for them in the river, it's little wonder. The poor old Macleay cops a real caning from commercial operators.
While quite a long river, it's mostly narrow and consequently easy to find locations of fish to net or trap. So don't expect fish like the good old days while ever there's commercial fishing allowed on this wonderful system.
Bass anglers are rejoicing with the warm Spring weather, heading up into those great freshwater locations.
While the water is still a tad cool up river, each day of full sunshine will heat the river rocks and slowly warm the water.
And the warmer it gets (within reason), the more active the bass will become. Spring is certainly the best time of year to chase bass up in the freshwater, so get out there and enjoy the early season run.Reads: 1371