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Plenty of fish on the move
  |  First Published: July 2012



With the weather cooling daily, the inshore run of bream, blackfish, mullet and mulloway have been on the move.

Most headlands are alive with fish and many anglers enjoying some fun sessions fishing into the washes. Those flicking pilchards and lures around have added some nice tailor, too.

With so much inshore ‘bait’ running, there had to be some big inshore predators, too. There are few things big mulloway like more than a sizeable mullet or blackfish and reports have filtered through of some huge fish coming off the rocks.

The biggest I've heard so far was caught by a pro on a set line and went 54kg. Others between 30kg and 40kg have also been caught.

So if you ever want a shot a truly big jewfish, now is the time to send out some serious baits and hang on.

With the predators come the apex predators and there have been several large jewfish washed ashore that have been bitten in half.

One was at North Gap Beach. This one was bitten cleanly in half just behind the rear dorsal fin. Found up in the shallows and still twitching, the remaining section pulled the scales down to 32kg!

Another big jew was washed up in two pieces at Smoky so it's a great time of year to look for big mulloway, but a pretty average time for late afternoon swims!

OFFSHORE

Those heading to sea are finding snapper in pretty good numbers on the close reefs. There have been some thumpers caught in recent weeks, with two going close to the old 20lb mark (9kg).

Most, however, are 1kg-2kg with a sprinkling of bigger fish. Good catches have come from the close and middle mackerel grounds off Grassy Head and some good fish are also being taken from the reefs off Scotts Head and up towards Nambucca.

From now on we should see kingfish numbers begin to build around Fish Rock and Black Rock, peaking with some real monsters towards the very end of Winter and into early Spring.

There are usually always schools of rat kings to play with at both locations, though it's the bigger fish that most anglers want to catch.

The key is to use big baits and heavy tackle. I used to spin up half a dozen legal (30cm) tailor before heading to Fish Rock. There are few kingfish that will tolerate a kilo chopper struggling in front of them.

But if you're going to put out big baits make sure you have the tackle to handle the ensuing battle. Leaders around 150lb, 50lb minimum main line and stout tackle capable of handling extreme drag settings are essential.

The bonus of sending decent-sized baits to the bottom is the odd nice jewfish, especially around the bombora on the eastern side.

THE RIVER

The Macleay River is fishing OK with the odd bream avoiding the nets and sneaking in.

Those fishing the lower rock walls are pulling a few nice bream, with the change of tide around low water most productive.

Those fishing the walls with lures are pulling a few bream also, with blades like the Stiffy Devil Fish well worth throwing around. Just let them sink as long as you dare and buzz them slowly up the rock walls. Lure losses can be high so don't get too attached to your blade.

Further up-river school mulloway have been active around Jerseyville, with plenty of smaller fish coming from around the bridge pylons and some bigger models along the rock walls below.

The tide can really race up there, so time your outing around the tidal change, preferably the last of the run-out tide and first of the run-in. Mid-tide it simply runs way too hard.

Despite the cooling water, flathead have been around in reasonable numbers. Most of the action has been up in the shallows in the Stuarts Point arm of the river, with areas of ribbon weed and obvious drop-offs the places to look.

With the days shorter and cooler, many fish will be looking for shallow, warm spots to lie and if those cosy pockets are likely to hold numbers of baitfish, then you know you're in some prime country.

Farther up-river the bass have been biting quite well but with the closure until September 1you may have to wait a little to target them again.

If you're towards Smithtown and pin a few bass while looking for bream and flathead, just let them go in good shape as soon as possible. It's not illegal to catch a bass, just to keep it.

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