June marks the turning of the season, as we start to get cold on the mid north coast of NSW. Although cold frosty mornings become the norm, the quality of fishing makes it easy enough to get out of bed and get among a few fish.
The after effects of mackerel fever begin to kick in about now, and this becomes evident simply by looking at the uncrowded boat ramps through the region.
It is safe to say that mackerel can still be caught in June, however their numbers will reduce drastically as the water temperature begins to drop. The focus for most offshore anglers will shift towards fishing the bottom where the inshore reefs are producing plenty of snapper. The majority of these fish have been pan-sized, although there has been a few exceptions.
Out into the 80–100m zones there are a vast array of species on the chew. Snapper, teraglin, pearl perch and pigfish have been as reliable as ever, as well as plenty of kingfish and mulloway getting in on the action – especially when fishing with live baits such as yellowtail and slimy mackerel. The southerly current has stopped now, and the main has been slightly ‘uphill’. With these northerly currents, encounters with pesky gear-destroying leatherjackets are inevitable. We encountered some of these fish back at the end of April. The good news is that now the current has all but stopped, it will be possible to fish out wider than the leatherjackets and deep drop for some of the tasty species that dwell in the depths, which include bar cod, blue eye, hapuka, bass grouper and gemfish. These fish respond to all types of live and dead baits, so it is worth mixing it up a bit. An electric reel is almost essential when using weights up to 2kg.
If the conditions are not too favourable, and you are moving from destination to destination at a slow pace it is still worth trolling lures, as yellowfin tuna have popped up all over the place as well as striped tuna for bait. Kingfish are presently around Fish Rock, however the majority of these fish are only just above legal size at best. The beaches have been a hive of activity as the winter spawning run of bream, blackfish and mullet progress through the region. Some massive tailor, as well as mulloway and salmon have accompanied these fish. Throw large hardbody diving lures and soft plastics into the gutters to get into these larger predators, you may even encounter species you would not always expect like flathead and even kingfish.
Calmer, more settled conditions without the blaring heat of the summer sun make for great rock fishing sessions. Target the usual species like tailor and mulloway and you could end up tangling with some hanger-on species like cobia, longtail tuna and big-eye trevally.
Locating fish in the Macleay can be a bit tougher during the cooler months; however, when you do find them you are generally in for a good session. Find bait schools to dramatically increase your chance of finding bigger fish, and they are definitely in there. Big mulloway and flathead, as well as tailor and kingfish are some of the bigger species that inhabit the river. Live bait is one of the more popular methods to target these fish.Reads: 577