Spotted mackerel hit their peak
  |  First Published: March 2007

It’s been a frustrating month for blue water anglers at South West Rocks. One day the ocean’s flowing warm and blue, next day it’s green and lifeless. Massive temperature fluctuations from 25°C down to 19.8°C can occur in a single day. Hopefully this month we’ll see more consistency with high water temperatures and keen northern pelagics.

Despite the crazy water temperatures, there have actually been some pretty good fish around lately. Cobia, mackerel, mahi and marlin have all been caught, but mainly when the blue water is in. If it’s cold and green, you may be in for a tough time. However, judging by all the SST maps on the Internet, it looks like the good water is finally pushing south wide and strong, so we should have seen the last of the fishless cold stuff.

There have been plenty of visiting anglers looking for billfish over the past four weeks. Most have failed, but the trickle of fish coming in has kept the punters interested. Again, hot and cold water has been the biggest problem, and I strongly suspect that by March it will be royal blue and loaded with quality fish. There are good numbers of billfish above us, we just need a steady stream of good water and the reefs off Trial Bay Jail will fire up.

Those heading wider (100 fathoms onwards) have found good water with healthy numbers of fish. Wahoo, yellowfin, big mahi, blues, stripes and a few black marlin are out there, it’s just a matter of how much luck is on your side. Head out on the wrong day and you’ll simply burn loads of fuel for little result. Head out when the water’s blue and the birds are going crazy, you’ll more than likely score terrific game fish.

There have been a few good spotted mackerel around, and this month is one of the best for these northern speedsters. The most reliable places to fish are Grassy and Scotts Head. These are basically the most southern reef systems that spotted mackerel frequent in good numbers. If the water is pushing hard south, you occasionally find them in more southern areas, but generally there are a handful of reefs just north of South West Rocks where the largest numbers of fish are found.

Enjoy the next few months as the spotted mackerel (and hopefully a few Spaniards) build daily, peaking from now until late March, before fading away as we head closer to Winter.

Again, anglers heading south to Fish and Black Rock have been disappointed with kingfish numbers. Sure there are plenty at both locations, but the average size is lucky to be 2kg. It’s difficult when you experience months of fish in the 6-8kg class, a week or two with bigger fish around 10-14kg, then all of a sudden the waters are filled with overly enthusiastic rattlers. I’ve seen a few nice jewfish taken on livebaits fished close to the bottom, plus some quality reds, but the kings have been a bit of a let down.

Despite the absolute flogging the cobia got last season, there are actually a few good fish left. Those chasing marlin have found a few off the Jail, and a few guys fishing for spotted mackerel have caught some also. One fellow reportedly caught a 20kg-plus fish just off the Jail from his kayak. Apparently it took a Rapala CD 18 and flogged him for half an hour. His gaff shot failed and it took off with his gaff, and a passing boatie offered him another which he eventually landed the fish with. Top effort but not recommended as shark numbers have been exceptionally high lately.

While most of the action has been centred around the offshore fishing, those fishing the river have been catching a few nice fish also. Again the hot and cold running water has played havoc, but if the water’s warm (say above 23°C), you should find a few good flathead, the odd school jewfish and some reasonable bream along the rock walls. As we have had very little rain over the past few months, the best results have come fishing the low tide tidal change. High tide has been very clear and not surprisingly the fish have been quite spooky.

With a bit of luck the water will be blue this month and full of exciting game fish. Fingers crossed anyway!

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