South West ‘Rocks’ in summer
  |  First Published: December 2015

December is already here and there is excitement in the air as good warm water pushes down from Queensland and the north coast of New South Wales. With the influx of warm water comes the first run of northern species of fish that inhabit South West Rocks in summer. Black marlin, spotted and Spanish mackerel and mahimahi catches will become consistent from now through to Easter.

Cobia, and various tuna species will be in abundance throughout this period as well. Bottom fishing will still be productive for the remainder of the year but will become harder as the current picks up and we progress into summer. Bottom ship style jigs on light tackle will still allow access to these fish in moderate depths even if the current is running a little. Fish rock has been loaded with kingfish – but there have been many small fish to every big one. As we get closer to Christmas, those smaller kingfish typically plague this area making it extremely hard to get to the big fish. Bait fish have been in good numbers on the inshore reefs, although traditionally they become harder to locate as the summer pelagics settle in for summer. Live baiting and jigging out on the deeper reefs is producing some solid kingfish when the ocean conditions allow and some nice mulloway have also fallen for live baits in these same areas.

Rock fishing has been very good lately. We have had an awesome run of decent sized school mulloway and metre long fish have been caught regularly with a few bigger ones among them occasionally. Most headlands in the area are holding these fish. Large soft plastics of all shapes, colours and sizes work on mulloway, as well as a whole array of fresh and frozen baits when they are on the chew. Mixing it up between bait and lures can be the key to success when chasing mulloway. Tide changes around dark are the prime time to target these fish, especially if you can find a good washy hole that is holding some form of bait in it. Big bream have been a common by-catch while fishing for mulloway - especially after dark.

The lower Macleay has had some big flathead along the rock walls and in some of the deeper channels throughout the system. School mulloway and whiting are fairly reliable species to target in the river through December. Early whiting catches have been awesome this year with some red-hot surface sessions recently. Bait fishing with live beach worms and pink nippers is a relaxing yet productive way to target whiting along the edges of the sand flats and the bait gathering can be just as fun as the actual fishing.

Mud crabs are being found in all the local creeks and into the upper salty reaches of the Macleay and Clybucca Creek. These crabs are in great condition and there have been plenty to go around. Blue swimmer crabs have been in the faster flowing channels in good numbers as well. The first few kilometres of the river and Clybucca Creek are good places to set witches hats. It pays to drift for flathead close to where you set your traps as share farming becomes quite rampant as the holiday season approaches.

Bass fishing on the upper Macleay is absolutely firing and the action will only heat up as the weather does. It blows me away how many quality fish get on surface lures on this river at this time of year.

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