May marks another change of seasons in the Macleay Valley. Easter has come and gone and the crowds have definitely died down. Although the weather is beginning to cool, the fishing action is still hot. If variety is what you are after in your fishing, then now is the time as the pelagics slow down and the bottom fishing picks up. It is still quite possible to have a day out with a red-hot bite from both categories though.
Although mackerel numbers are thinning, there is plenty of bait around and the water will be warm for a few more weeks yet, so it is safe to say encounters with these fish should continue. Wahoo will definitely be around through May, having a field day on the bonito and frigate population, especially from the gaol grounds through to Fish Rock.
Longtail, mac, striped and yellowfin tuna are spread out from 1 end of our coastline to the other. Some of these fish have better table qualities than others, and some make great bait, however, 1 thing is for sure — when using the appropriate weight tackle for each species you know you will have a good fight on your hands.
Fish Rock will be a hive of activity for the majority of the remaining pelagics, and has also been home to plenty of kingfish of late. A lot of these fish are just above legal length. Lightweight micro jigging setups as well as octo jigs like Lucanus or Pirates and small knife jigs make angling for these smaller kings an absolute hoot. Believe me, you will have to work for your feed. It pays to take plenty of backup jigs, as some days the ‘towel ups’ will be handed out quite regularly.
Another bonus of fishing this downsized tackle is that other species like snapper are also on the cards to mix the bag up a bit. These methods also work quite well on the deeper reefs as the current slows down. Just about all species of reef fish can be targeted, with pearl perch, snapper, mulloway, trag and tusk fish being at the top of the list.
Live baiting the inshore reefs, especially early in the morning, late evening and even into the night if the conditions allow it, will produce some larger mulloway at this time of year.
The current generally eases through winter, making deep dropping possible again. Big kingfish will be found on a lot of the reefs and wrecks out to about 200m, and cod and blueye beyond into the deep stuff. Already some quality pearl perch and trag have been coming in from the 80-100m zones.
Beach fishing is another productive form of fishing through the cooler months as spawning migrations take place. Along with targeting these spawning fish, larger predators like mulloway and tailor can be chased also. A lot of mulloway anglers will turn their attention to the rocks, especially areas where these spawning fish will try to hold up overnight.
Blackfish, bream, drummer and tailor will all begin to show in better numbers around the headlands as we progress into winter. Cobia are still being caught quite regularly and there have been some absolute crackers landed this year.
Mulloway, especially school-sized fish, have been quite prevalent in the river, as have huge numbers of medium sized bream. These fish have been feeding quite actively in the dirty water, however, a very light approach is required most of the time to trick these wary fish.
May marks the new start of the bass closed season, beginning this year. Bringing the date forward a month is aimed at giving these fish an extended period to spawn uninterrupted. Most anglers don’t target the species during this time to help develop a healthy population in our river. Most bass will travel down towards Kinchela Creek and the Belmore River to hold up for the winter. All bass captured must be returned to the water immediately, unharmed, during the period from May 1until September 1.Reads: 512