Pelagics arrive
  |  First Published: December 2010

It took a while but the first of the northern pelagic speedsters arrived not long back when the first black marlin and a solid wahoo were hooked.

Reports of mahi mahi on the Fisheries FAD show we're right at the start of what will hopefully be an exciting inshore run of northern game fish.

I suspect cobia with be next species to visit the reefs off South West Rocks, followed by spotted and Spanish mackerel. Fingers crossed we get a blinder of a season to make up for the last six years of well below-par offshore action.

Besides a few sprinklings of northern speedsters, the main players at present are kingfish and snapper.

As usual, those heading down to Fish Rock are having all the luck with the kings and those shooting up north off Scotts and Grassy heads nice and early are finding the quality snapper.

Until we get a solid stream of royal blue water hitting the Jail wall, you can expect just a trickle of the northern game fish so until it's bath-warm, keep targeting the kings and reds.

Those fishing the rocks are still finding a few nice bream, salmon and the odd tailor.

These cool-water species are slowly thinning as the water temp begins to rise and it won't be too long before all three species will be very hard to round up.

Beach fishing is stating to spark up with petty good numbers of flathead and whiting in those warm, shallow gutters. There are plenty of pesky dart scooting around the wash zones, too.


The remorseless rain of recent months has again had the Macleay River running nice and brown. While not the colour of chocolate, it has been pretty dirty with lots of weed swept down from way up-river.

It will probably have cleared – and then flooded again! – by the time you read this.

Between flushes of mud, the whiting started to fire up nicely over the flats.

I had a few really fun sessions a week or so back, landing around a dozen fish flicking clear poppers across the yabby beds.

If you haven't tried popping the flats for whiting you're missing out on some great surface action. Mixed in with them can be flathead and bream, so you can get a varied bag working topwater lures over the tidal flats.

Those fishing the deep walls are finding some good flathead and school mulloway.

Live herring and small mullet are working well, as are lures, especially 4” to 6” soft plastic shads and minnows.

Most of the flathead are bigger breeding fish so letting them go is the name of the game.

The mulloway are schoolies of 2kg to 5kg and will provide lots of thrills on light spin tackle.

The lower reaches, especially on the run-in tide, have been the most productive.


Up in the freshwater, bass are biting well. Mind you, it's a real battle finding a period of fishable conditions between mini-floods.

But if you time your tip well you can expect good numbers of quality bass from Kempsey night up to the headwaters.

With the warm weather bass will be happy to feed anywhere.

So this month there should be more inshore pelagic species like marlin and cobia on the reefs just off Trial Bay Jail and the first of the Spanish mackerel should hit the northern reefs.

Out wider, mahi mahi and wahoo should increase and depending on current, may even push right in to the close reefs.

The Macleay River should improve for big flathead and school mulloway and plus whiting numbers will increase markedly up on the tidal flats.

It's a great time for fishing and the action should only get hotter in months to come.

On a final note, those coming here on holidays should take extreme care when crossing the Macleay and Back Creek bars. I watched a boat nearly roll yesterday in what I'd call fairly calm conditions, so make sure you take all precautions.

Remember, if in doubt, don't go out – no fish is worth dying for!

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