Time for tropical pelagics
  |  First Published: December 2012

While we haven't a decent marlin run for nearly eight years, it seems like this one may be OK with reports of good numbers of baby blacks to the north and the possibility of a flow-on effect to us.

Usually not far behind the billfish are wahoo and cobia. These nomads follow the warm currents and hold station for a short while where food is most abundant.

Wahoo stay for the shortest period, often schooling up at Fish Rock as they sweep their way south.

Cobia can be spread far and wide and usually hang around right through the warmer months and then head north again in May.

Prime places to look for them are Green Island, Black Rock and the jail Ground.

When there are marlin in close there are usually mahi mahi out just a tad wider.

From the 40m contour outwards, start looking for anything that floats – trap buoys, trees, an old fridge – it usually doesn't matter, if it floats, the odds are there will be mahi mahi nearby.

Lures like poppers and fizzers seem to fire them up for a little while.

Once they wise up to lures, flick out some pilchards or cut bait.

Most effective method of all is usually live bait; slimies, yakkas, little trevally, it really doesn't matter.

Next on the hit list is mackerel. Usually we'll have spotted and Spanish mackerel on the northern reefs by this month with the peak influx usually mid-February through to May.

Grassy Head, Scotts Head and Middle Head are the places to start looking. If there are numbers of boats around these spots, there has usually been a mackerel or two caught recently.


Along the ocean rocks there are usually a few bream, tailor and mulloway. On the ledges more exposed to current you can expect the odd cobia, tuna and mackerel.

But for most North Coast headlands, it's a lean time for the bread-and-butter species.

Those keen on hitting the local beaches can expect building numbers of dart, whiting, flathead and a few chopper tailor.

If there's plenty of bait present then there's always a chance of a mulloway. Dawn and dusk are prime times to look for these highly prized fish.

The Macleay River has sparked up a tad with some great flathead coming in. Reports of fish up to 5kg have filtered through and good numbers of plate-sized fish also.

Most of the action is in the lower reaches, with the smaller fish happily feeding up around the Stuarts Point arm and the big mothers along the deep tidal rock walls.

A few school mulloway have fallen for baits and lures with the odd fish pushing 7kg. While certainly small fish compared with the monsters of years gone by, after the mass decline of jewfish numbers in the past 5-6 years, any mulloway in the Macleay is a good one!

Bream and whiting are also fishing quite well and for these fellows the water above Jerseyville is worth exploring. There are quite a few tidal flats for whiting and plenty of deep tidal rock walls for the bream.

Look for the zones holding the most bait and you should be able to score a few fish without too much drama.

Bass are biting well from Kempsey all the way to the mountains. Little rain means the water is clear, so the best results will often come early and late in the day – and especially at night.

Once the sun sets bass become fearless and will be out and about happily belting anything that wobbles their way.

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