Time for a transition
  |  First Published: November 2016

South West Rocks and the mid north coast can be a funny place in November. At this time of year, the waters around the mid north coast start the transition from summer to winter species. It’s possible to have an awesome session on numerous summer and winter species, although it’s also possible to do it tough. There can be so many options, but nothing is firing quite yet.

As the current starts running hard to the south, it’ll bring with it some beautiful warm, blue water out wide, and the pelagic species will start to hit our region more often. All the signs are pointing to an early pelagic season this year. Hopefully mother nature will be kind to us, and the seas will stay calm and the rainfall will stay away.

Fish Rock has a lot of kingfish at present. Lately these fish have ranged from just-legal rats right through to absolute howlers. This area can be hit-and-miss at times, but you never know until you give it a try. It’s easy to be tricked into fishing light while catching these just-legal fish, but rest assured the second that you drop down to lighter gear you are likely to get blown away by a monster. Micro and knife jigs are probably the most effective lures in this area, followed closely by bigger octo-style jigs.

Black Rock is still holding some fair snapper, along with mulloway and kingfish. This area fishes well during low light periods of the day and into the night, although sharks can be a problem when fishing at night. This area has been known to produce the odd cobia at this time of year.

The deep water fishery is just about to come to an end as the current picks up for summer. There will still be a handful of days where deep dropping is possible though, and on these occasions the bottom will still be quite productive. Snapper, pearl perch and mulloway are still in reasonable numbers offshore with the reefs out to about 50m still able to be fished quite easily most of the time.

There is plenty of slimy mackerel, yellowtail and pilchard schools in the area. While the water is alive with bait for now, things will dramatically change with the arrival of the summer pelagic species of mackerel marlin and wahoo that leave little hope for these baitfish. Spanner crabs have been quite plentiful on the sandy grounds from the gaol down towards Hat head.

Tailor have still been found around the headlands feeding on the schools of pilchards. While there haven’t been huge numbers of tailor, they have all been of an awesome class. The rock ledges have also been holding a fair amount of good-sized school mulloway, with fish around the 5-8kg mark being the most common.

Big paddle-tail soft plastics and large live and dead baits will help single out the bigger fish in the schools. It pays to keep mobile when fishing with plastics and cover as much terrain as possible until you find the fish, rather than being confined to one area and waiting in hope. If there’s a mulloway in the hole, you’ll generally find out within the first couple of casts.

Flathead have been the main feature of the river lately, and boy – there have been plenty of them! The majority of these fish are in the 40-50cm bracket, which is a great size for the table. Soft plastics and vibes worked close to the bottom will help locate these fish fairly quickly, and once you find them you can throw just about anything at them. They’re just starting to become more active for the summer.

Whiting are starting to show up on the sand flats now, and some cracking big whiting have already been taken on surface lures from the shallow areas of the river. If you’re looking to just set a light rod in a rod holder and relax and enjoy your surroundings, live unweighted nippers are another good option for targeting whiting in the river.

The beaches are generally at their slowest at this time of year, however whiting will start showing up in serious numbers soon. Fishing a tide change just after dark will usually produce a decent mulloway off the beach if there’s any form of bait schooling up outside the break that day.

Upriver, bass fishing has been decent. Prime time is just around the corner now. Bass are already hitting the surface in the daytime, making for some awesome visual strikes. Good fish are being found from Kempsey right up through the Macleay system and its feeder creeks.

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