Plain sailing from here
  |  First Published: September 2007

Finally, it seems we’re getting a taste of Spring. Those bitterly cold south-westers have tapered right off, giving way to light afternoon sea breezes, there’s no more ice on the boat at first light and it’s all plain sailing from here.

It’s been an interesting month here at The Rocks. Again we’ve had hot-and-cold fishing with some great runs of quality tailor along the headlands and some bitterly cold bream action up towards Frederickton. While it’s still a bit of a mish-mash, things are certainly becoming more consistent as we edge towards the warmer seasons.

There seem to be massive schools of leatherjackets on virtually every reef system. While they’re certainly good tucker, they’re an absolute pain if you’re looking for quality snapper or other bottom species.

But it seems the ravenous jackets are thinning nicely, allowing anglers to target snapper, pearlies and other more desirable offshore critters. From recent conversations, there appears to be some great snapper action up off Grassy Head and Scotts Head in 40m to 50m, and some big fish, too. One weighed at the local tackle shop was 9.6kg cleaned, a great red in anyone’s language. Let’s the hope the run continues into Spring.

For those more keen on big, cranky kings, head south and sink a few larger live baits, like tailor or pike, around Fish Rock or Black Rock.

If lure fishing is more your game, break out the big poppers and see what you can raise. There have been some big kings about, with fish up to 20kg hooked though the numbers are still fairly low, but building.

This is usually the time when the big kings move in and if there are sauries or other surface bait around, it’s not too hard to find the kings. Massive surface boils and raining baitfish are a pretty good indication you’re in the right spot!

As touched on, there are some good schools of tailor hugging the headlands and beaches. Not only are they in numbers, there are also some big greenbacks mixed in.

So if you’re keen on these hard-hitting high-fliers, head south and work over a few headlands with metal lures, poppers or good old ganged hooks and pilchards.


In the Macleay River the blackfish fired up big time. Out of the woodwork, hordes of ageing anglers with long, floppy rods adorned the lower rock walls and most weren’t disappointed.

They took good bags of bronzies, straight from the headlands, feeding vigorously on the run-in tide along the walls. I suspect they’ll be slowly edging their way up-river so it would be well worthwhile to start looking at places like the Wire Fence, The Cut and even up around The Bamboos.

The recent influx of blackfish fired up a few nice jewfish. I hit the lower reaches and found some good fish to 16kg keen to hit rubber lures. As I suspected, they were right under the blackfish schools and they should become even more active as the water warms and the prawn numbers begin to build.

Those keen on bream have had little to smile about in the lower reaches. A severe flogging from beach haulers ensured only a small number entered the river and those that did were flighty at best.

With ultra-light line and plenty of finesse, you could pull a few nice fish towards the river mouth but for easier fish it was more reliable to head up-river and chase the frozen bream up around Smithtown. I say frozen because the water was around 12° at the time and the fish came out feeling like they’d been on ice.

It’s been a pretty disappointing Winter run for bass. For the handful of keen sports anglers who brave the chills and headed up towards the brackish water, very few fish were caught each outing.

I suppose in a way that the big bream that were up that way compensated a bit, but if you had your heart set on catching some big bass you would have been pretty disappointed.

But, with the weather warming, it’s time to start looking a little farther up-river for bass. Try around Frederickton to Greenhills and next month, Greenhills right the way up.

All those lovely rocky pools up-river will fire up very shortly, so fingers crossed for some consistent warm weather.

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