Summer species are heating up
  |  First Published: December 2016

Summer is here again and with longer, warmer days. It gets easier to find time and motivation to get out and wet a line. The Christmas period will bring droves of fishers to the mid north coast of New South Wales chasing everything from bass to marlin. With the changing seasons, possibilities are almost endless when it comes to fishing methods and the species available in the Macleay Valley region.

For land-based anglers, the headlands and rock ledges are holding decent school mulloway. These fish have been readily available – as long as there’s a good supply of baitfish present, these predators are never far away. Smaller tuna species including striped tuna, bonito and mac tuna are around now and will be an awesome food source for the visiting pelagic species that are soon to hit our shores.

Bream and the odd bigger tailor, as well as drummer, are all coming out of the headland washes. The sandflats in the local creeks and the main river system are home to some serious whiting now and there are plenty of flathead patrolling the drop offs adjacent to these shallow areas. There are good sandflats on each side of the Macleay that will produce fish and are easily accessed by all ages. These flats are also great places to launch kayaks and explore a bit further afield. Casting small surface poppers and stickbaits is a great way to cover these sand flats and can draw strikes from all types of unexpected species.

The beaches will start to fire as we move towards Christmas with whiting, bream, flathead and dart all in good numbers in the gutters. Four-wheel drive vehicles provide the greatest access to the better spots, but you can usually find a decent gutter in walking distance of a beach access point.

For offshore boaties, things really fire up around here in December. Small black marlin and mahimahi are the first pelagic species to arrive in this area. Juvenile marlin can be found on the close grounds from Grassy Head down past the gaol and on towards Smokey Cape.

While many mahimahi will be caught around the fisheries FAD, bigger fish can be taken on the troll while targeting marlin and tuna, especially out on the reefs off Hat Head. The first mackerel catches will start any day now with a few bigger Spanish mackerel showing up before the insurgence of the spotted variety.

Kingfish are around Fish Rock and Black Rock, but the majority of these have been just over the legal limit. The better fish at this time of year come from deeper reefs and wrecks when the current lays off enough. Cobia are starting to appear around the bit reefs and headlands, which is a good sign. These numbers generally increase as we progress towards Easter.

For estuary boaties, on those days when the weather doesn’t allow safe passage offshore, the river holds plenty of options at this time of year. The rock walls are home to bream and mulloway and with plenty of bait around kingfish and trevally are never too far away. Mud crabs are right through the lower system and blue swimmer crabs are down on the sandy areas around the boat shed and up into the start of Clybucca creek.

December is the beginning of prime bass season on the Macleay. Hotter days are bringing the insects out in force and the bass are reacting explosively to their presence. Summer bass fishing is all about surface luring and it is awesome when the sound of bass taking bugs from the surface can be heard in every hole.

Walk the dog style stickbaits, poppers and cicada imitations are the most common lures used now. A general rule is that bigger is better and you will be amazed at how big a lure even a small bass will take when they are fired up. Canoe fishing is the best way to really get the most out of the river and even at this time of year you can fish large stretches of river without seeing a soul.


The areas off Smokey Cape will be a hive of activity when the pelagic species arrive.


When it comes to cicadas in summer, bigger is better.


The stealth qualities of a canoe helped Sam Redman catch and release this beast.

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