Holding out for surface action
  |  First Published: October 2015

The 2015 bass season kicked off quite well with heaps of sizable fish caught in the first few opening weeks. The areas around Kempsey and up towards Belgrave Falls and the upper tidal limits of the river saw some of the hottest action. This is due to the fact that this area has the highest congregation of bass as they make their migration back upriver for summer after spawning.

The surface action will heat up with the weather, however at present deep diving lures and spinnerbaits are definitely providing the most hook ups. Cicada imitation lures like Tiemco Soft Shell Cicadas and other surface lures are sure to grab the attention of the more active bass, resulting in plenty of chasers, although the majority will not actually strike the lure just yet.

The top end of the tidal zone usually becomes a hot spot for sharks at this time of year. The presence of these predators in the river can result in your prize catch being eaten right beside your canoe or boat just as you were about to net it. Caution should also be exercised when releasing fish, as these river sharks are known to follow your boat looking for an easy feed, just as they do offshore.

Reports coming in from upriver say that a lot of bass have already moved well up the system, with plenty of fish in the deeper holes making everyone primed for an awesome season.

Moving down into the salt, the Lower Macleay is firing quite nicely. Smithtown has been home to plenty of bream and flathead as well as some nice-sized whiting in the deeper holes. Soft vibe lures like the Samaki Vibelicious in the 70mm and 100mm sizes have been the gun lures for exploring these deeper holes, and are accounting for just about every species present.

Down towards the entrance of the river, the first few kilometres of the system have been fishing well also. Bream have been thick along the rock walls and up around the oyster racks in Clybucca Creek. Big flathead are becoming more energetic as the water warms however, with the most consistent catches coming from up in the rock walls only a foot or two from the water’s edge. Lightly weighted 5” soft plastics will usually draw a strike from these fish, which are lying in wait for unsuspecting prey to swim past.

There have been plenty of baitfish in the river, attracting a range of predators to come and feed on them. Tailor and even kingfish and trevally have been popping up all over the place as they bust up through the baitfish schools.

Around the headlands there have been plenty of drummer and blackfish. Tailor numbers seem to finally be slowing down after an awesome season. There are still plenty of school mulloway and decent bream to keep the rock fishermen happy.

October often brings unsettled and unpredictable weather with it. Even the weather bureaus struggle at times to predict what the weather will be like. When you monitor the weather forecast for the following weekend, it seems to change daily, leaving you unsure of what you’re in for. In these situations you sometimes have to make a decision on the day, and if you’re unsure you should either stay in enclosed waters or not go out at all.

If you can get out, kingfish are the most reliable species offshore during October, and they are generally a bigger class of fish. We probably have another month or so of good bottom fishing time left before the current picks up again for summer. Good snapper and pearl perch are still on the cards as well as pigfish, venus tuskfish and a whole array of tasty bottom dwellers.

Small leatherjackets have plagued us over the last month or so, but it finally seems as if there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

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