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It’s been a long, cold Winter
  |  First Published: September 2012



Slowly but surely we are clawing our way through what would have to be the coldest Winter I can recall. I remember some colder days, but not such a long run of days lingering around 15°-16°.

I'm sure I won't be the only one ecstatic when Spring weather returns.

While it's been painfully cold and miserable, there has been some pretty good and consistent fishing.

Those heading out to sea have mainly been targeting snapper off the northern reefs. And for many, the cold starts have paid off nicely, with 1-3kg reds fairly common. Add some jewfish and heading out to sea in the chill doesn't sound all that bad.

Other offshore anglers have taken to trolling the headlands for tailor.

It hasn't been a bad run this season, with some quality fish up to 2.5kg coming in. Most are falling to slow-trolled Smiths jigs and metal slices and spoons.

Just take care when undertaking this form of fishing – one mistake and it's very easy to end up on the rocks.

Shore-based anglers are pinning some nice bream, tailor and the mandatory salmon.

Bait and lures will score fish, with the traditional ganged hooks and pilchards a firm favourite for many.

Smaller pieces of pilchard or tuna flesh will work a treat on the bream.

As for the salmon, well, everything seems to work well for them. The only time they're hard to fool is when you really want one!

Swell has been pretty consistent this season, so again take plenty of care when crossing the bars or venturing to the open headlands. If in doubt, don't fish there.

BLACKFISH MODE

Back in the cool waters of the Macleay River, most anglers have switched to blackfish mode.

The rock walls in the lower reaches are the places to head. On the last of the run-out tide, fish the Wire Fence, the main breakwall close to the mouth and on the western side of the river at The Cut and White Rock.

For those keen to avoid crowds, head up the Stuarts Point arm and fish the oyster leases or further up the main river and drop anchor and fish the slower flowing water towards Jerseyville.

Anywhere the current is reduced or altered by the rock formations will be worth a shot.

Bream have picked up a tad, with some nice silver fish sneaking in the lower reaches.

The lower rock walls right at the river mouth are fishing quite well, especially late in the evening on a run-in tide.

Those fishing from boats can do a lot worse than to flick small, lightly weighted flesh baits back to the walls.

The same slow drift approach with lures like Squidgy Flickbaits, Berkley or Gulp minnows and any number of small vibes will score fish, too.

I haven't heard too much about flathead lately but despite the cold weather there are nearly always a few fish poking around.

The ideal locations are anywhere shallow with weed or rocks close by. These types of spots tend to attract and hold baitfish and during the peak heat of the day will often be slightly warmer than the faster flowing, deep water close by.

MULLOWAY

Mulloway are about, though not in good numbers. A few 12-15kg fish class have been landed lately, but the anglers have had to work for them.

Not too many reports of smaller schoolies, but there are nearly always 1-3kg jew hugging the rock walls up around Jerseyville. For the bigger fish, definitely head to the lower reaches of the river.

Many bass are in full spawn, grouping in numbers in the upper brackish country. Hopefully they do their thing en masse and the Macleay will continue produce good numbers of these quality sport fish.

While Winter has been painfully long and cold, the bright side is that Spring is just around the corner. And with the eagerly awaited warmth will come new and exciting fishing options.

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