Hot water, high times
  |  First Published: February 2013

Hot water and some exciting inshore game fishing have been the big news at SWR over recent weeks.

Keen offshore game fishos who planned their holidays timed things exceptionally well.

It's been seven years since we last had a run of inshore marlin when more than one fish was caught every few days.

This year it seemed a return to the glory days was possible, with fish caught daily and plenty of baitfish on the Trial Bay Jail reef systems.

I drove up the Jail the other day for a stickybeak and saw four boats slow-trolling for black marlin. I sat there for 20 minutes and saw three caught.

From all reports, most boats were getting fish most days, so if you like chasing high-flying inshore marlin then this year is looking very promising indeed.

As we all know, if the good blue water pushes in, so do the many other great northern species. The next should be mackerel, cobia, wahoo and mahi mahi.

There already are some nice mahi mahi about so the others won't be far behind and they could be here by the time you read this.

Although I haven't heard of any cobia coming in, I'd dare say there's a few on the Jail Reef. You can have loads of bait and no cobia; the trick is sorting through the sharks and marlin. It's an interesting problem to face!


There are mackerel on the northern reefs now.

Usually everyone waits for someone to score a few before they head up so if nobody heads up, none get caught. Or if someone scores a heap and remains nice and quiet, still no one heads up.

It's funny; there usually are plenty of followers and very few leaders. So if you want mackerel fishing in peace, now is the time to shoot up to Grassy Head or a touch further up to Scotts Head.

As the weeks slip by you can expect the inshore game fishing scene to heat up even more. While it's only early days now, things are certainly looking very promising indeed.

There's also been a steady improvement in the Macleay River, with mulloway and flathead firing up nicely. The lower reaches are the place to head, with the deep rock walls below Jerseyville a good place to start.

There's a lot of rock lining the Macleay but to help reduce the search area, look for zones holding good shows of bait and getting plenty of tidal sweep. Judicious sounder work can pay dividends.

The jewies and flathead have been falling to lures and live bait. Drifting the walls with larger soft plastics and live yellowtail or herring will usually prove too much for any waiting fish. An electric motor is almost essential for a steady, controlled drift –hopefully Santa gave you one for Christmas.


Bream and whiting have been active in the warming river water.

At this time of year both tend to be active in the mid sections of the tidal zones, basically Jerseyville bridge up to Smithtown. This large section of river is usually more discoloured than the lower reaches which can often run very clear at this time of year.

Small lures such as poppers and vibes have been consistently knocking over bream and whiting. Best results are often had around dawn and dusk.

Poppers work a treat on whiting exploring the newly covered flats and the vibes are killers on the bream hugging the deep tidal rock walls.

If you're a keen lure fisho, those two lures alone could pretty well catch most species that reside in the Macleay, so don't hit the river without a few.

Further up-river it's still bass time. The Macleay River is arguably the best bass river on the east coast and plenty of locals and holidaymakers certainly agree.

While the numbers of fish close to the easily-accessible spots may be down slightly, anglers putting in a little more effort to head farther afield can scoring epic days with good numbers of quality fish – effort often equals reward.

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