Waiting for the spotties
  |  First Published: December 2007

It is that time of year to start thinking mackerel and with last season being so good, you should be getting excited about now.

We are expecting the spotted mackerel to come on the bite any time over the next month and those fishos out early will beat the crowds. The mackerel grounds off Shark Bay are the first to fish well and most fishos there troll pink squid to find the fish and then switch to bait or casting lures.

The tuna have already started to arrive with some fishos reporting mackerel tuna and bonito moving through the bay. Small chrome lures cast into the schools will produce the best results. If you prefer to troll, then green and/or purple skirted lures are the usual colour of choice.

The snapper have been a bit quiet over the past month with only the wide grounds fishing well. Fresh squid has been the bait of choice with the average snapper around the 4kg mark.

On the closer reefs the lure fishos have had the best of the action with Gulp soft plastic in the nuclear chicken colour the ones to use.

Flathead are around in good number now with the whole river fishing well for good table-quality fish. Bait and lure fishos are landing good-sized flatties from the lower reaches with live herrings the baits of choice.

The Middle Wall is the place to be for the large fish with 5” Gulp Jerk Shads fished deep on the drift along the wall producing flathead up to 90cm.

Bag-limit catches of whiting are coming from Oyster Channel at night with live worms the best bait. Yabbies and fresh prawns are also worth a try but make sure you have the best quality bait you can get.

During the day lure fishos are landing some big whiting with poppers and fizzers fished across the shallow sand banks around the entrance to Lake Wooloweyah and throughout Oyster Channel. The North Arm of the river is another hot spot for whiting and has been producing good size fish.

The river gar are about in good numbers now with catches coming from the weed beds throughout the river. Best bait at the moment is a small piece of peeled prawn on a No 12 or No 14 hook.

You can find these fish over most weed beds and with a bit of berley you can start a good bite. This type of fishing is excellent for the kids because you can catch a lot of gar in a short period of time – nobody gets bored.


Mangrove jacks have started to become active in the lower reaches with the average fish around 1.5kg. All the recognised spots are producing fish in the late afternoons and early evenings on poppers. Those using live poddy mullet or large herring are catching jacks throughout the night.

The school jewfish are now on the chew with fish up to 8kg. Oyster Channel bridge, Harwood bridge and the reef at Maclean are all producing fish on lures and bait.

Browns Rocks and Palmers Island are holding lots of smaller fish with the average specimen only 2kg to 3kg. This will hopefully change this month and we will see some larger fish move into this area. Best lure to use is a 3/8oz TT Rev Head jig head and a 5” Gulp Jerk Shad.

The bream are taking surface lures freely now with some of the best fishing as far upstream as Grafton. The middle reaches are still holding the best numbers with Maclean the current hot spot.

The walls in the lower reaches of the river are best fished at night with live herring or mullet gut as bait because there are a lot of small bream throughout the day along these walls.

It’s time to start thinking crabs with reports of sand crabs in Oyster Channel and around the mouth of the river. So get yourself some traps and grab a fresh mullet because there’s nothing better than a fresh feed of crabs and a cold one after a day on the water.

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