May is here already and you can feel the change in the air. Cooler starts and finishes to the ever-shortening days bring with them a whole new range of species to target. Although it can sometimes be hard to find the motivation in the cooler weather, if you put in the effort you will be rewarded.
A lot of the focus in the Macleay valley will shift towards beach fishing over the next few months. Large schools of mullet are already on the move in the river system, ready for their spawning run. With the commencement of this run it is time to start targeting the larger predatory species such as mulloway, tailor and big flathead.
Good numbers of mulloway and flathead are congregating in the first few kilometres of the river, already anticipating the arrival of the mullet. These fish will be found all along our beaches over the next few months. Live baits will be very effective and easy to gather, although soft plastics and large hard body lures can account for just as many fish on any given day. Just look for something which imitates the baitfish that are in the area and you’re in the game.
Early season tailor numbers are good with some solid fish amongst them. Most have been taken from the rocks but there have still been some crackers taken from the surf.
Longtail tuna are everywhere, taking everything from live baits to metal lures and stickbaits. Rock hoppers, boaties and beach fishers have all been in on the action, with plenty of fish in the 15-20kg range.
Bream numbers are good in the estuaries and are increasing every day around the rocks and along the beaches. Unweighted live herring and cut baits are still proving to be the most successful options when fished along the river’s rock walls around a tide change. Light line is the key in this instance, so be ready as the big bream will be heading straight back for the rocks and the oyster shells lying in wait to shred your leader.
School jewfish are another common by-catch when fishing in this manner. These fish will also be a good test for your light tackle.
Mackerel numbers are starting to decrease as things cool down. The better numbers are being taken more to the south from Hat Head through to Port Macquarie. Spanish numbers are fading fast but the spotties seem to be sticking around a little longer.
Reasonable numbers of pearl perch and teraglin have been coming in from the deeper reefs, with most of the action from outside of 60m. Snapper have also been on the bite a bit closer, though there’s no real size to them as yet.
Yellowfin and mac tuna are mixed in with the longtails all along our coastline. These smaller tuna are awesome sport on light gear so it’s well worth having a lure set-up, as they can pop up anywhere at any time.
Cobia numbers have not been huge but they are still regularly being caught from the inshore washes and headlands.
Moving upstream, the cooler weather has kick-started the bass migration downstream. Decent rainfall has lifted the river levels, allowing the fish to have a relatively uninterrupted run. The fish are still hitting surface lures hard during the lowlight hours. Throughout the day spinnerbaits and divers are more successful. Catches upstream are thinning out but are ever increasing in the tidal zones around Kempsey. There are still a few months left to target this species before they are closed down for winter.Reads: 524