Reasons for optimism
  |  First Published: July 2013

Things are certainly cooling down on the Mid North Coast, with night temps occasionally dropping into single figures, but the water remains fairly warm so there's still a mix of northern and southern species to be had.

While the mackerel have all pretty well shut up shop, there are a few straggling cobia making their way north again.

As usual, it's the 11-Fathom Reef just off the Jail, Jims Hole and Green Island that have turned up a few nice fish. Reports are of cobes up to 22kg, with most around 11kg, so it’s still well worth putting the effort to track them down.

Yellowfin tuna to around 20kg are coming from Fish Rock and out towards Rocks In Line, the 36-fathom reef east of the Jail.

Trolling Jethead skirted lures has been the trick for many fishos but any high-speed skirted lure will work and a trolled minnow is also in with a chance.

As the water gets cooler, the fish should get bigger and a little farther out to sea.

The inshore run of snapper is just getting under way with reports of some fish coming off the 20m reefs to the north.

Baits and lures have pulled fish, with the trick simply to go early or fish into the late afternoon. The fish often bite hard for a short time around dawn and dusk, so you need to be Johnny on the spot for good results.

The good news for inshore anglers – rock, beach and estuary, is that many of the Queensland and local beach haulers have packed up shop for the season. The bad news is, they left only because there was nothing left to net!

How you view that is up to you, but it does mean any spawn-run fish still moving along the coast have some chance of making it past the local headlands, beaches and finally into the nearest estuary.

It's tough work for beach fishos at this time of year. Not because there's no fish to catch, but the continuous stream of beach haulers waving spotlights over the fish at night.

There have been some confrontations, too, mainly over scaring fish with spotlights and blatant disrespect of local recreational anglers.

Thankfully the greedy slaughter has ended for this year and local and holiday anglers can have a chance to fish for bream and tailor on our beautiful beaches in peace again.


In the Macleay River a few bream and blackfish have slipped past the nets and into the lower reaches.

As you can imagine, at this time of year it's best to concentrate your efforts in the lower reaches of the rivers and on the Macleay, that means staying below the main boat ramp for a month or so.

As the season wears on, slowly edge your way back up river.

Bream are already in the river in pretty decent numbers, so expect some fun times on quality silver fish from Kemps Corner to the very mouth.

It's doesn't matter whether you prefer bait or lures, fishing around the tidal change at dawn and dusk will nearly guarantee a few quality fish.

Blackfish run pretty late around these parts, with the best numbers of fish often coming during late Winter and early Spring. It takes a fair while for the water to cool here and local weed growth is held back, but usually when the luderick fire up in July into August, some hectic sessions can be had.

Recent heavy rain sparked up some mulloway activity at the river mouth. Nothing crazy, just a few 5kg-10kg fish taken on bait and lures. These fish also should start to bump their way up-river, following the bream and blackfish run.

Again, fish the lower reaches for a month or so before heading up beyond Jerseyville.

Bass have pretty well shut up shop in the cool freshwater reaches of the Macleay River and many are edging their way down towards the brackish zones from Smithtown to Kempsey to spawn.

Most anglers steer clear of the spawning fish, and some chase the big bream that can often be found up that way during late Winter. If you do snare a bass while bream fishing, it's not the end of the world – just carefully set it free as soon as possible.

Enjoy the Winter run of fish. It's not the most pleasant time of year to be on the water but there are often plenty of calm days and usually some quality fish to be had.

Just pick the nice days and rug up accordingly.

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