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Stay on your toes
  |  First Published: March 2011



Finally some good water and good fish have shown up. But don't get too excited because regular floods and near absent baitfish will keep you on your toes.

But when you can catch bait and when the river isn't spewing out brown water, you can expect to find some exciting game fish inshore.

Due to the endless rain and brown water pouring out of the Macleay River, most of the good fishing has taken place down around Fish Rock and Black Rock.

Plenty of good blue water is hitting Fish Rock, holding everything from kings to wahoo, cobia and marlin.

To give you an idea how tough it is to find bait, a mate ended up berleying up a few mullet to take out to sea. He headed down to Fish Rock and pinned a nice yellowfin and a 70kg black marlin – so all hail the mullet!

If you can catch small tuna (frigates, bonito or small mack tuna) or the elusive slimy mackerel, you should be in with a shot at any number of species.

MACKS SLOW DOWN

The mackerel season started off with a bang and has now slowed right down.

This is prime time for spotted and Spanish mackerel, but the horrible brown water pouring from the river is being taken with the current and swamping the northern mackerel reefs.

While spotted mackerel despise the dirty water, Spanish are a little less fussy and the odd fish is still coming in for those putting in the hours.

Reports of Spanish and cobia have filtered through from Hat Head point.

You don't get the horrible floodwater down that way, so it makes sense that the game fish are happy to hug the stones around there.

Boat fishing is a good option around Hat Head because that way you avoid the crowds on the rocks and get to troll for wahoo and other species in your travels.

But just watch the creek access. At low tide it's pretty shallow and only really suitable for small to medium-sized boats. High tide is fine.

MURKY MACLEAY

The recent rains have turned the Macleay River (and most others on the North Coast) a lovely brown colour.

You would think the fish would be used to it by now, but they're not.

The run-out tides are next to useless, with the fish pretty well shutting up shop.

On the run-in tide, things are different – especially towards the top of the tide – with cleaner water in the first kilometre or two of the river. In this much cleaner water you'll find bream, flathead and school mulloway happy to feed.

If the rains hold off for a while the river should come good.

There were some good flathead being caught between the last couple of freshes, with fish up to 8.5kg taken, plus some stud bream at night along with a few good mulloway.

So there is hope; it's just a matter of the weather gods behaving themselves for a little while. We live in hope.

For those who love their bass fishing, this entire season has been a write off. The prime months from October until now have been nearly a constant wash-out.

Just as the river begins to clear, down come the rains again. Fingers crossed we have seen the end of the rain but I'm not too confident – the official rainy season combined with a la niña weather pattern...

So the good news is, there's a decent run of game fish offshore, with numbers of quality fish close to the stones. As predicted, this is the best run of game fish for the past six years.

Now we just need some stable weather so we can get out and enjoy it.

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