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Northern visitors arrive
  |  First Published: March 2012



The warm water is here, and so too many of the exciting northern speedsters.

Mackerel, marlin and a few wahoo have all been swept south with the current, so get out there and enjoy the run of fish.

The first northern visitors to hit the local reefs were spotted and Spanish mackerel.

As usual, they're on their favourite reefs off Scotts Head and Grassy Head. There are a few reef systems up that way but most of the action seems to take place on the shallow reef right in front of Grassy Head – about 300m out.

The next port of call is what is refereed to as the Wide Grounds, which are a further 800m to the north-east.

You should have no problems finding either reef because there are sure to be boats on both systems for the next few months.

For those after something a little bigger, there have been a few black marlin on the Jail Grounds.

After years of dribs and drabs, very few people here target them but from all accounts quite a few fish have been hugging the inshore reefs.

Just scout around for bait balls. Large shoals of slimy mackerel will not remain unmolested for too long, so if you stumble upon a good-sized school of fish, make sure you put an hour or so sinking live baits around it.

If the marlin don't show, there may well be cobia on the school.

Some good mahi mahi have been caught by those trolling out wide of 40 fathoms, as well as a few solid blue marlin of 120kg to 160kg.

Locally made Warhead Lures seem to be doing the damage, pinning some great fish for the blue water crews. At this time of year it's well worth trolling a spread of skirted lures so if you like dragging plastic around, fuel up and get out there.

MACLEAY RIVER

Those fishing the river over the holidays struggled a bit with the crowds. It was hard to find a nice quiet spot and many fish were put off the bite.

Thankfully, the crowds have now thinned and the fishing is returning to normal, although at the time of writing there was yet another flood warning for the Macleay – what’s new?

All those shallow spits and bays previously full of swimmers, wake boats and blow-up crocodiles will now be home to the local flathead again.

The deeper walls will also be well worth a shot, especially on the bigger run-in tides.

Flathead seem to love those big tides and will bite well even in the monster tidal runs up around 2m.

Bream anglers would have wisely headed up-river during the holidays and enjoyed the run of fish up near the brackish water below Smithtown. Those heading for the quiet waters up towards Clybucca will also score fish, especially around the oyster leases.

This time of year is all about small surface lures, with Ecogear PX 45s, Stiffy Top Dogs and Berkley Scum Dogs and the like being great choices for those seeking some fun surface action.

Mulloway numbers – as many know – have slid to a scary level in the Macleay but there have been pretty good numbers of small fish around.

They just don't get a chance to reach a good size.

But if you like targeting school jew of 1kg to 3kg, there are always a few hugging the deep rock walls between Jerseyville and the river mouth. That's a lot of country, but there's pretty well fish through that entire length – just look for good concentrations of bait and concentrate your efforts there.

Bass anglers have started to smile again after the recent flood, with bass now biting freely again up in the small water.

One thing about the Macleay bass is they're tough buggers. Life battling raging floods and endless currents seems to have given them extra strength.

I chase bass in many other systems and they just don't fight as hard as our local fish.

Nowadays I use 10lb braid and 10kg leaders and fish with around 1.5kg of drag. It sounds like overkill but hook any fish over 600g tight in cover and you'll need it.

You have to love bass fishing and their environment, so get out there and enjoy these terrific native sport fish.

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