Steadily recovering
  |  First Published: August 2001

Torrential rain and flooding not long ago did little to boost local morale.

Anglers have been doing it a little tough in recent weeks and when the rains came, turning the Macleay River (and plenty of others up and down the coast) into a swirling torrent of brown water, trees, channel markers and debris, local anglers’ heads dropped even lower.

Thankfully, the floods have came and gone and by the time you read this things should be almost back to normal.

Since the deluge, I've heard of some great snapper fishing on the northern reefs. Things have only just cleared and it seems the reds are all keen to get back in on the close reefs.

Those flicking lures have pinned some great fish up to 5kg and those soaking bait are getting greater numbers but smaller fish.

All in all, things are looking good if you're a keen snapper angler.

To avoid some of the brown water quite a few anglers headed south, where there are a few good reef systems in 37 fathoms nor’-east of Fish Rock.

This system, called Rocks in Line, is pretty good for pearl perch, snapper, trag and mulloway. It's fairly deep and usually get lots of current sweeping over it but during the cooler months the current is usually quite manageable.

If you're heading that way it's only a few kilmotres over to Fish Rock.

At this time of year the place comes alive with mack tuna and kingfish. There are usually a few reds poking around, too.

The kings are the main target and will usually be found hugging the up-side current, hanging on the rugged peaks and bumps.

Live bait works a treat, especially yakkas.

Lures are also well worth flicking around. Stick with poppers and knife jigs and you'll be in with a good shot on these tough Winter warriors.

If you're at Fish Rock, you may as well sneak over to Black Rock. This impressive chunk of granite just behind Smoky Beach is always worth a shot for big snapper and kings during the cooler months.

Most of the action takes place on the southern side.

A little berley wafting out the back and lightly weighted baits are all that's needed here. Oh, and flick a few sizable poppers around while you're waiting for the reds to show.

Don't get too attached to your lure, though – this is a tough place to land any king over 10kg.

Those heading wider again will be in with a good shot at yellowfin tuna. Winter –especially late Winter – is prime time for these northern speedsters. Each year they sweep down during the cooler months, hugging the wide reefs out towards the 100-fathom line.

Depending on current they may be as close in as 60 fathoms, but usually they like to scoot past on the wider reefs.

A spread of skirted lures dragged behind at around 8 knots will usually find a fish or two. Most average 10kg to 20kg.


During the flood many fish were pushed out of the Macleay River and moved to the local headlands and beaches.

Things have cleared markedly but many fish – especially bream, blackfish and tailor – are still calling the headlands home.

The Jail Wall is a good spot to start, followed by the proven locations of North Gap and the northern end of Little Smoky.

The torrent of brown water shut the Macleay down for nearly three weeks but now the old girl is starting to come good.

As you can imagine, the first place to spark up was right at the very river mouth. Some good bream tentatively edged back in, followed by some schools of luderick.

You can't have bream and blackfish without jewfish and there have been a few nice jewies caught close to the river mouth.

Thanks to the flood there's been little to talk about on the bass front.

Most of the local bass were too busy hanging on for dear life as the 10m wall of chocolate swept through, but I suspect when they do decide to feed again they will be very hungry and way downriver in the brackish country.

There were probably also a few out to sea!

So it's recovery time here at South West Rocks. With the floods all over and good water starting to push back into the local river systems, things can only get better for those fishing the Holiday Coast.

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