Heavy summer rainfall has given the Macleay River system the flush out it has been crying out for. The upper Macleay was becoming overgrown with weed, which not only made the bass fishing difficult, but it also gave the fish a haven full of shrimp to eat, making them lazy and hard to entice out of cover.
Fortunately, the latest rise has removed most of this weed and the fishing has been on the improve ever since. It looks like we will have a good tail end to the bass season now.
The salty end of the river has benefitted from this fresh too, as it has brought all the saltwater species that have been spread throughout the system back down to the lower reaches of the Macleay.
Big mulloway will be at the top of the hit list until the fresh passes through the system. Fishing with large paddle tail soft plastics, big diving bibbed minnow lures, or large live baits within the first few kilometres of the river system will put you in with a chance at cracking a monster.
Good numbers of quality bream have been coming in from around the Jerseyville area. Small, lightly weighted grub tail soft plastics and mullet strips fished around a tide change are proving to be the best method of capture. Be prepared to hang on whilst fishing these methods though, as decent school mulloway are present in this same area and there have been plenty of towel-ups handed out to unsuspecting anglers of late.
Popping for whiting has been as productive as ever. This year there have been countless reports of giant herring inhabiting the river too. These fish have been everywhere at times, from the oyster packs of Clybucca Creek to the sandflats and bridge pylons of Smithtown, with plenty of metre-plus fish amongst them. Numerous whiting poppers have been lost to these speedsters over the last few months, so it can be well worth upsizing your reel to allow for better line capacity when fishing this method.
Cobia are starting to show more frequently on the inshore reefs and around the washes of most of the headlands. These are a prize fish in the area and should stick around in good numbers until winter hits. Live baiting with slimy mackerel or yellowtail is the most productive way to catch a cobe, however, plenty of fish are taken on the troll and even wire rigs intended for mackerel don’t seem to put them off.
Spotted and Spanish mackerel are also inhabiting the inshore reefs. If gathering live bait is a problem, I wouldn’t be too concerned as a large portion of the fish caught this season have fallen to pilchards and cut baits fished down a consistent berley trail.
Yellowfin and longtail tuna are being attracted to these same berley trails at times, which provides a bit of variety, and if handled properly can result in a good feed of sashimi.
Out wide, striped marlin are still around in reasonable numbers and there has been some cracking mahimahi picked up while trolling for billfish.
The beaches have been fishing really well, holding great stocks of whiting, flathead, bream and school mulloway. Live beach worms are as good a bait as ever, due to the diverse range of species that can be targeted on a single bait.
It’s not all about live baits. The author with a Spanish mackerel taken on a pilchard.
Keen young angler, Jack Riach, with a 7kg mahimahi he caught out from Hat Head.
Zach Pritchard with a nice up-river bass.Reads: 317