Focus on flatties
  |  First Published: December 2012

The warm weather has more anglers out and about, and the main species every estuary angler seems to be after is flathead.

The old lizard certainly acts like a cold-blooded reptile, sulking for months on end during Winter, but come the first rise in water temp and they seem to come out of the woodwork.

Those keen to snare a few flatties in the Macleay and surrounding rivers should look no further than the first tidal flats in the lower reaches. Not the barren, weed-free flats; seek those with a nice drop-off and some scattered clumps of ribbon weed.

Most of the locals out looking for flathead have been using prawns, whitebait, small poddy mullet or herring.

Some of the more adventurous are flicking lures, with the start performers being Mister Twisters, 100mm Squidgy Flick Baits and 4” Berkley Gulps. So if you want a feed of flathead, now is certainly prime time to target them.

Other anglers in these parts have been enjoying a decent run of bream, with many fish in the mid to lower sections of the rivers. While bream are traditionally more Winter species, this year they seem to be around in good numbers still.

Prime spots to start looking are around the lower rock retaining walls at dawn and dusk, and particularly around a tidal change. The first of the run in is always a firm favourite because the tidal flow is often minimal and the cloudy water inspires the bream to feed.

Baits and lures will pull fish, with peeled prawns and tuna strips favourites for the bait crew, and metal blades and soft plastic minnows popular.

Mulloway numbers have been steadily building, with decent numbers of 2kg-5kg school fish coming in.

With any form of mulloway fishing the best results come for those putting in the maximum effort. Half-hearted sessions on these fish just don't seem to succeed.

You need to work your baits and lures around known locations at prime times – and nice and quietly.

Here on the Macleay prime spots are the deep rock retaining walls up to about Jerseyville. Prime times are dawn and dusk, and prime offerings are live mullet, yellowtail and herring. Gun lures are 130mm Squidgy Flick Baits and Shads and 5”-7” Berkley Gulps.


Those keen on more tranquil fishing spots could do a lot worse than throwing a kayak or canoe on the roof racks and heading up to the freshwater reaches of the local river systems.

We are right in prime bass time and those heading west have been having some great sessions. Although a 4WD is handy, many of the good spots are accessible with a 2WD and around most of the bridges from Kempsey upstream are producing some great fish.

The key is leaving a decent gap between you and the bridge. Paddle for a few kilometres before you cast to ensure you will be in lightly fished waters.


Those heading out to sea haven't been rewarded too well lately. It's been a real crossover time for ocean fishers, with the exciting northern speedsters yet to arrive.

The first of the fun blue water critters to show will be mahi mahi around the trap buoys and the Fisheries FAD 16km east of the jail.

Next to show will be cobia and marlin. Both usually start in mid-December and build in numbers through to April for the billfish and late May-June for the cobes. We can expect them to show any day now.

Following the marlin and cobes will be wahoo and mackerel. Both really don't kick into gear until January, with February to April prime time.

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