Pelagic pandemonium reaches South West Rocks
  |  First Published: March 2016

The Macleay Valley’s beaches have been loaded with huge numbers of big whiting lately, and with them have been a whole host of other species including bream, dart, flathead and school mulloway.

Locally caught live and fresh baits like beach worms and pink nippers are accounting for a fair share of the catches of these fish. Soft plastics and small to medium hardbodied lures of all shapes and sizes are also doing the trick for those anglers willing to try something a little outside of the box.

The headlands have been home to plenty of big mulloway and a few school-sized fish.

Cobia and tuna are also starting to show up more frequently now. Stickbaits and large metal lures are the preferred techniques when using artificials, however these fish, as with most predators, are suckers for live baits when you can get them or even a well-presented fresh dead bait. Tailor and bonito are probably the most consistent bait species to target from the headlands.

Spanish and spotted mackerel numbers are fantastic now after slacking off following an awesome start to the season. These fish inhabit the inshore reefs throughout our region as the water temperature begins to soar. Plenty of Spanish mackerel over 15kg are being caught regularly, with slow trolled bonito proving the gun bait to nail a larger specimen.

Spotted mackerel sizes and numbers are varying from day to day, however the average size seems to be a little smaller than that of the last couple of years.

Wahoo and sailfish are two other hard-running species that have graced our shores in good numbers this season. These fish have generally been trolled up out a bit wider than the mackerel grounds off Grassy Head past the gaol and right through to Hat Head. Black marlin and bull mahimahi are also taken when trolling these lines. Skirted lures as well as bibbed and bibless minnows are all doing the job on these fish.

Some big kingfish have been caught from around Fish Rock at times. The current has been absolutely racing through this area, making it harder to fish, but definitely way more productive.

Sharks are a bit of a problem again this year, however they are no worse than they usually are when the pelagics are about. Large hammerheads and bronze whalers have been the main culprits for turning your prized catch into berley boat-side as you prepare for the gaff shot.

The river is fishing fairly well at present, mainly due to the abundance of live bait being found throughout the lower reaches of the river. All the usual suspects, namely mulloway, flathead and whiting are present in good numbers from the entrance of the river through to Smithtown and the Belmore River.

We are very fortunate at this time of year that a fair amount of species usually found north of us call the Macleay home. Large schools of GT have been busting up all over the place, not to mention the healthy population of mangrove jacks and Moses perch that inhabit the rock walls which line the system.

Kingfish have still been schooling up inside the entrance of the river quite regularly and can be targeted with live baits, plastics and stickbaits. It pays not to fish too light for these fish, as there are definitely big ones among them.

Bass fishing in the upper reaches of the river is about to reach its peak, with the surface action red hot almost all day long and well into the night.

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