While I’m no fan of cold weather, I have to admit that with the cooler the weather we often get better fishing.
Sure, you lose some exciting pelagic game species but the sheer consistency in the river and offshore leaves the Summer fishery for dead.
During the Summer months we get bath-warm water pushed south with the strong northern currents. These turbulent blue waters hold all manner of quality game fish, mahi mahi, marlin and wahoo just to name a few, but the inherent nature of oceanic currents means one day the water is blue, warm and full of life and the next, it’s green and lifeless. Summer is great for game fish but lousy for consistency.
On the other hand, Winter is far more stable. The water is usually green and cold with little fluctuation for months on end.
Most days it’s around 18° and 20°, just right for many Winter species. Compared with Summer’s 23° to 25° water this may sound a little bleak but cool-water species expect no different and thrive in the nutrient-rich waters.
So what’s on the cards during Winter? What isn’t! I guess the main players offshore are snapper, kingfish, trevally, yellowfin, mackerel and longtail tuna, tailor, pearl perch, drummer and bream. There are plenty of others but those are the most reliable.
I guess for many offshore anglers this month is all about snapper and kingfish and I have to agree; those two species alone make getting out of a warm bed onto a cold ocean well worth the effort.
While it’s still only early days for both species (snapper and kings usually get bigger and in better numbers as we edge towards Spring), there have been some good reds on the northern inshore reefs and some reasonable kingfish at Black Rock and Fish Rock.
Most snapper have averaged 1kg to 2kg but some 3kg to 5kg fish have come in. Again, the key is to fish nice and early or put in a reasonable amount of time with a steady berley trail.
If you haven’t got a few fish in an hour or so, up anchor and try a different location. There’s usually no need to head miles away, a few hundred metres to half a kilometre is fine. Start again with the berley and see what happens.
Kingfish are a little different. I like to hit the known haunts early, casting surface lures before the crowds arrive. If live-baiting, get a good supply of yakkas and cast them out unweighted.
If the fish are deep, send the bait down with a decent ball sinker. Kings just love yellowtail scad, often preferring them over all other livies, so it’s a good idea to get a decent number of yakkas in the livewell.
In the Macleay River most of the action is taking place up-river. And not just a few clicks, but around 20km to 30km from the river mouth. This is primarily due to lack of rain.
Many baitfish species, and naturally the predators that feed on them, have headed up towards Smithtown and Kempsey.
Those flicking small soft plastic lures have found good numbers of bream hugging the deeper walls. There have also been pretty good numbers of bass. Reports of sizable jewfish mixed in are making an up-river spinning session pretty interesting indeed.
The lower reaches should start to fire for blackfish and silver bream – as long as the beach haulers haven’t wiped them out before they can enter the river.
We usually see blackfish and bream arrive a little later than many on northern rivers due to our very warm inshore waters but when they arrive you can expect some good action between the river mouth and Jerseyville bridge.Reads: 400