Livies off the rocks
  |  First Published: February 2011

February marks the beginning of the live-baiting resurgence in the region, littering the eligible platforms with bodies and transforming the rocks into porcupines.

From Seal Rocks to Bennetts Head, anglers will take advantage of the pockets of deep water and the travelling schools of longtail tuna.

Along with the longtails come mack tuna, cobia and the sharks that tend to ‘tax’ the catch if it’s fought out for too long.

Live sea gar, yellowtail or slimy mackerel are generally available on site with a little encouragement and berley, but carting in your own bait is the only real guarantee.

From now until the beginning of June is the best time to live-bait from the rocks on the Mid North Coast with the Easter weekend the busiest and messiest on the rocks –please take your rubbish home!

Along with the pelagic species, the rocks offer groper, the odd pig, some tailor and bonito.

There were reports of kings along the ledges at Charlotte Head and if you are so inclined, the place may be worth investigating.

Another species that turns up at the backs of the beaches is the flathead. Casting behind the break from the rocky points that bookend the beaches will often produce fish.

I like the north end of Elizabeth Beach for just that reason. Three or four sandies is a great way to top off a mixed bag from the rocks and if you fling a 5" Gulp Jerk Shad on a 1/4oz to 3/8oz jig head, you just don't quite know what you'll pick up along the way.

The weather has been great for early morning and late afternoon beach fishing and the whiting and dart are eager to take worms, pipis and nippers.

The evening may produce a jew or two and the end of last year saw one of the best runs of jew I've experienced on the Mid North Coast and there is no reason it won't continue this year – fingers crossed.

The fish were available from the beaches and breakwalls and Tom Bolton managed his first big jew, of 18kg, off the breakwall on a live pike and was a very happy chappie.

Wallis Lake is fishing well and the upper reaches of the rivers are producing some great surface action for bream.

As the water warms and the butter prawns get bigger, more bream are attracted to the snaggy river edges where they can be seen slurping and actively hunting down skipping prawns. Not too many escape the jaws of the bream.

The prawns generally disappear in a boil of water, as do the cicadas that scream from the riverside foliage at this time of the year. One slip, they hit the water and it’s all over.

The weed edges in the river also produce some good-sized flathead, which lie in wait for the growing poddy mullet schools.


Not all the flathead are in the clean water of the lake’s entrance, though.

This time of year is, I reckon, the best time to target trophy fish. The spawn is generally over and the big females are looking to put on some condition and fill the gut cavity that has been, until now, restricted by the mass of roe sacs.

I advocate careful handling and release of the big girls, but a good photo to show off to the mates is gold!

The sand whiting have been a little disappointing to date, or it may be that I was just spoilt last year. They are not in the numbers I was hoping for but they’re still around and the first of the run-out tide late in the afternoon provides a pleasant way to catch a feed.

The tackle shops should have supplies of live beach worms on hand so call in, get some up-to-date advice, bait and tackle.

The rivers should be cleaning up provided there is no more rain. The Manning has suffered (or at least the fishing has suffered) from dirty water for a while but the end of the bass season should be an absolute cracker.

The tensions of the school holidays and the sharing of the water by all manner of watercraft is over but I still am amazed at the manners of some anglers.

Dave Scarlett and I were fishing on electric along a set of oyster lease washboards when a lime green Quintrex Hornet passed close by and proceeded to cut us off less than a cast length away.

The guy dropped his electric and started fishing in front.

It did my head in for hours afterwards that someone could be so blatant and damn rude. I'm sure it happens all the time but it helps to remind us that common courtesy and manners aren't all that common.

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