There have been a few signs lately that the cool weather may be drawing to an end.
Some unseasonable nor’-east winds have brought promise of better days to come. While this hasn't been the most miserable of winters, it's still be pretty chilly and those pre-dawn starts have been pretty hard to deal with.
But now each day is lengthening nicely, although the old saying ‘As the days get longer, the cold gets stronger’ seems to be ringing in my ears.
While Spring is certainly a welcome relief after a long, cold Winter, traditionally it's probably one of the worst seasons for fishing locally, basically because it's a transition period.
You start getting lovely warm days, but the water is still really quite cool.
And because fish work off a different calendar from ours, you may well find the action dropping off markedly.
While this time of year can be a little tough, there are certainly some nice fish to catch.
Right now we're right into prime snapper time. Late Winter-early Spring is when many snapper fishos start getting excited.
We usually see a good influx of quality reds move onto the inshore reefs. There have already been some nice fish around 7kg caught off Grassy Head and Scotts Head, and I'd imagine this action would continue to improve over the next four weeks or so.
If you're into flicking soft plastics about, or enjoy the more traditional snapper bait approach from an anchored boat, now is the time to get out to the local inshore reefs.
Another ocean species that seems to thrive in relatively cold water is the kingfish.
Around these parts the local inshore kingfish strongholds are Fish Rock, Black Rock and Green Island, all just around Smoky Cape.
Right when the big snapper are calling the inshore reefs home, sizeable kingfish are cruising up the coast and playing havoc on the local baitfish populace.
What is seen as a ‘baitfish’ can depend on the size of the kingfish that arrive.
If we get an influx of only 4kg-10kg fish the local yellowtail, slimy mackerel, pike and various other smaller fish will be very nervous indeed.
If, as we have in most years, get a run of thumpers in the10kg-25kg class, everything from sizeable salmon to tuna will be on high guard.
On the Macleay River the luderick anglers are starting to smile at last.
After a quiet start to the season there have been increased numbers of fish in the lower reaches, with the Wire Fence, Kemps Corner and White Rock on the North Wall holding good numbers.
As the season moves on, many of these fish will slowly make their way up-river. If you're struggling to locate the local weed pond, never fear: Rocks Marine Bait and Tackle usually has top quality weed that works a treat on the local luderick.
With more luderick, the local mulloway have started to resurface. Some nice 10kg-15kg fish have come in, mostly on live bait fished after dark.
But if you are proficient with soft plastics lures, you should be able to track down a nice jewfish or two by working the tide changes around dawn and dusk.
The key to both lure and bait success is simply fishing where's there's good supplies of bait, and fishing around the change of light period.
This is a winning combination no matter which estuary system you choose to fish up and down the coast.
While this hasn't been the best season for bream, there has been a late charge in the lower Macleay. It seems the bream are hugging the same country as the blackfish.
Some of the savvy anglers have been swapping the luderick gear for heavier bream outfits and adding some quality silver bream to the bag.
Bass have been busy spawning and good numbers of fish moved down into the brackish country.
By the end of the month they will be heading back up-river to the pure freshwater reaches, though many will stay lower down if baitfish supplies warrant the extended visit.
Whilst it's still quite cool and the fishing can be a little tough, the warmth of Spring is just around the corner. And with the warm weather, warmer water will come eventually, bringing all sorts of action to the Mid North Coast.
But for now think snapper, kings, big mulloway and luderick.Reads: 1376