Game on any day now
  |  First Published: December 2008

There are exciting times to come here on Mid North Coast. The sea surface temperature maps are looking great, showing a good belt of bath-warm water spearing down the coast.

We haven’t had a good run of game fish in these parts for nearly four years and now, thanks to a normal Spring with plenty of strong nor-east winds, we finally have some good blue water pushing down the coast.

At this rate we should have some exciting game fish on our doorstep any day now.

It seems the first wave of game fish has already arrived, with some terrific mahi mahi up to 15kg caught from 36 fathoms outwards. Most have been caught on skirted lures by keen billfish anglers looking for early season marlin.

As the warm water sweeps down and pushes closer to shore, we can expect black marlin and a few stripes to inundate the close reefs just of Trial Bay Jail.

And thanks to the Spring north-east winds, it looks like there are plenty of small baitfish to attract and hold the all-important shoals of slimy mackerel. Fingers crossed everything continues as it is and within weeks, we’ll be enjoying a hectic run on feisty juvenile black marlin.

Local and visiting anglers have been enjoying the late Spring run of kingfish at Fish Rock and Black Rock. We’ve had a few lean years with the kingfish but this latest run is shaping up nicely with good numbers from 3kg to 8kg and pretty good numbers of fish from 10kg to 14kg.

This time of year we usually see some much bigger fish lurking and, true to form, there have been a few real horses from 25kg to 30kg landed.

Divers have reported solid schools of big fish but getting them to bite – and then landing the buggers – can be a real problem.

Big baits and heavy tackle are probably the way to go. But if you turn up and there’s no current (like I did the other day), you can expect lean pickings even if there are plenty of kingfish present.

Those chasing snapper on plastics are still getting a few quality fish, though numbers seem to be thinning out daily.

Most fishos have reverted to bait and have found much better numbers of fish in the 40m country off Grassy Head and Scotts Head. Things usually get a little tougher for the snapper crew, with warm water thinning out a lot of the fish that were previously in quite shallow water.


The Macleay River is still really hit and miss for flathead.

There have been days where they have fired up, then long periods when they suffer from lockjaw again.

The hot-and-cold nature of Spring often produces sporadic results, so this is nothing unusual – just annoying!

A few bigger female flatties have been caught and by the time you read this they should be much more prevalent. Needless to say, it’s well worth letting the big breeders go to help continue the high numbers of flathead in the Macleay. Keep the breeders we’ll really only ruin our great fishery.

Bream numbers are terrible. You’ll go long and far to find good numbers of quality fish.

But this is also pretty normal for this time of year, with many bream edging their way up-river. Most of the action will take place around Smithtown, Clybucca, Belmore and Kinchela Creek.

The deep water close to the river mouth is largely a waste of time if you want consistent bream action.

Jewfish numbers should (hopefully!) improve this month, with larger numbers of school-sized fish being active from Jerseyville to the river mouth.

While recent results haven’t been terrific, fish from 2kg to 7kg have been quite reliable. I expect a rapid increase in size as we move towards Summer, with many fish around 6kg to 12kg in their usual haunts along the rock walls.

The bass crew are enjoying a consistent run of fish up above Kempsey. It really doesn’t matter how far up-river you decide to head, the warm weather has raised water temps enough so the fish will be happy to feed all the way to the upper reaches.

So if you don’t like the crowds, grab your spin rod and canoe and start exploring some of the terrific country west of Kempsey.

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