Those summer bites are surfacing
  |  First Published: December 2016

Bass fishing in the reaches of the Macleay River up above Kempsey is now coming into the prime season with these fish at their most active. Cicadas and beetles are out in force now and the surface bite is on fire as a result of their presence. Loud boofs on the surface can be heard right through the day.

Like all forms of fishing, it pays to match the hatch. Any surface lure resembling the size and shape of a cicada or beetle should draw out an awesome strike almost immediately if it’s cast into the strike zone. Lightly weighted soft plastic grubs are another great lure for targeting bass, especially when fishing in tight cover or over weed beds.

The river could definitely use a flush out with some areas extremely low. Hopefully by the time this article hits the stands the upper catchment will have received some much needed rainfall. The flow on effects of this rain will be felt throughout the river system. The sand flats of the lower river system and up into Clybucca Creek have been on fire lately.

Whiting numbers have been outstanding in the past year with a lot of big fish around. The surface bite has been red hot. Lures like the Yakamito Intruders and Bassday Sugapens are the standouts. Bream are also getting in on the surface action along with decent flathead and trevally.

Small bull sharks have been patrolling the deep drop-offs, snatching hooked fish quite regularly, so be aware of this when wading out into the deeper water. These sharks are more interested in your catch than you, but it pays to be cautious.

School mulloway are in reasonable numbers along the rock walls from the entrance up to Jerseyville. Soft plastic jerk shads and paddle-tails around 5” are the preferred size when chasing schoolies in these areas, as they leave the door open for an endless variety of by-catch. Big bream, trevally, mangrove jack and flathead will all nail that size plastic when it’s presented well.

Kingfish have been another regular addition to the species that are regularly found along these rock walls. It always pays to take a heavier setup because even a small kingfish can obliterate you when fishing plastics tight to these rocks.

Offshore, the bottom fishing is pretty well wrapped up for now, except for the odd occasion when the current lays off. Most offshore anglers’ attention is now aimed at the summer pelagics that visit this region. Summer can be a very busy time as many anglers, especially from the south, travel to South West Rocks. It’s the last consistent region to catch mackerel on their southern run.

The FAD has had mahimahi quite regularly with warm water present out there for months now. Bigger mahimahi have been taken on the troll by boats targeting black marlin, especially down towards Hat Head. Mackerel numbers will increase as January progresses – the reefs out from Grassy and Scotts Head are the epicentre of the early season catches. Cobia numbers have been better than average so far and, if all goes well, this trend will continue on towards Easter.

Unfortunately, many sharks accompany the pelagic species. This year has started off worse than usual with heaps of fish having been lost boat side already. While setting a berley trail is a great way to attract your target fish this year, it might be a better idea to pull up the anchor and troll your baits or lures away from the pack to give yourself a fighting chance at landing a fish.

January is a great time to head up the beach, gather some worms and pipis and target bream and whiting. Mix it up and throw some metals, vibes, soft plastics and hardbody lures for a great way to increase your catches of mulloway and flathead, as well as many other species that are likely to travel along these gutters in the summer time.

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