Anglers are firing as surface action heats up
  |  First Published: January 2016

The Macleay River has settled down nicely after the latest fresh through the system, and the local bass fishery has been absolutely firing as you would expect at this time of the year. The whole river system above Kempsey has been a hive of activity with kayak, canoe and land-based anglers all getting into some solid fish.

Larger surface lures are the most exciting and productive lures to fish at the moment as fish are feeding aggressively. Late afternoon and night sessions are providing some awesome fishing and these hours provide relief from the sweltering summer sun and allow anglers that work from 9-5 to get in on some great fishing. River whaler sharks or bull sharks as they are commonly known are fairly rampant at this time of year so it is advisable to be a little cautious when releasing fish, especially in or just above the tidal zone of the river.

Big flathead have been patrolling the drop-offs and gutters adjacent to the sand flats in the river up above Jerseyville. Fish up to one meter in length have been quite common in this area lately. Live mullet and herring as well as big soft plastics will draw out these bigger fish if you’d like to target them. A quick photo and a gentle release is the best method of preserving the flathead stocks for the future. The value these big breeding fish provide for the river system and the species far outweighs the eating quality of large fish. Big elbow slapping whiting are coming in from the shallows of these same sand flats as well as an abundance of bream. Using small surface lures for whiting like poppers and small walk-the-dog style stickbaits is growing in popularity in our area and is an awesome way to have some fun with these smaller species using light gear.

The rock walls adjacent to the entrance of the river are holding plenty of school mulloway and bream as well as some trevally and kingfish at times. Concentrate your efforts around a tide change to aid your ability to fish these areas as big tidal differences at this time of year can create a huge amount of run in the river. The South West Rocks bar is currently very shallow and a lot of sand has been deposited on the southern side of the channel. Take extreme caution if you are unfamiliar to the area, especially at low tide, and if you have any doubt seek other access points if you are in a small boat or don’t go out at all. Bar cameras can be viewed on the RMS website if you need help to aid your decision before you go.

Offshore the water is warming up nicely as the currents begin to push down from the north and although at present mackerel catches are fairly low, this will change and who knows what even tomorrow might bring. Once these fish hit our reefs and headlands they generally can be caught right through until May or June with success. Black marlin, cobia, wahoo and longtail tuna are just a few of the other species that will call this area home over this period. Smokey Beach has been fishing well for whiting and flathead and bait gathering of pipis and beach worms has been a relatively painless experience.

The land-based fishing is starting to enter peak period now. Hundreds of anglers will arrive over the next month to tangle with the awesome pelagic species that will come within reach of our stones. Spanish and spotted mackerel, cobia, kingfish, marlin and various tuna species are just a sample of the LBG species opportunities that will come to play.

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