The early season pelagic run was a lot quieter this year than it has been in the last few seasons, although there is still plenty of time and good water to hit our shores, so don’t put away the gear just yet. The juvenile black marlin that we usually encounter on our close grounds in large numbers have only been a smattering of fish so far this season. The word from up north is much of the same.
Mackerel catches have been sporadic. A lot of this can be put down to the strong northeasterly winds that have been lashing our shores for months on end making it hard for anyone to consistently target these fish. Good numbers of cobia are being found around the headlands and bait reefs of the area. Slow trolling bonito around any area holding bait will put you in with a good chance at enticing a cobia. Don’t be scared to use a really big bait.
Bonito have been relatively easy to find in the washes and around the shallow bait reefs. Slimy mackerel have been finicky at times and the majority are being found out in the deeper water rather than in the bay. As we move into March, the winds should settle down a little and allow better access to the vast array of species that are offshore at this time of year.
Yellowfin tuna are starting to show up wide of Fish Rock and their bluefin cousins won’t be far away. Once tuna show up in numbers, you can rest assured that big Spanish mackerel and wahoo will never be too far away. The current has been a bit stop-start lately and on the slack days some quality snapper, pearl perch and mulloway have been caught from the depths.
Beach fishing is improving now with good catches of whiting, bream and flathead starting to come in on a fairly regular basis. Some massive shovelnose sharks have been patrolling the gutters, especially after dark, making things interesting for unsuspecting anglers. There have been a few stories going around of people thinking they had the mulloway of a lifetime only to be drawn into a long battle with the notorious ‘Hat Head flathead.’
The lower reaches of the Macleay River have been home to reasonable numbers of whiting, especially up on the sand flats. Some absolute crackers have been caught this year on lures and bait alike. Flathead have been found along the drop-offs and weed bank edges. Bouncing larger lightly weighted soft plastics over this weed has been the undoing of some solid flathead as they prey on the small baitfish and prawns that inhabit this environment.
Trevally have been holding in the upper tidal reaches of the local creeks and rivers. Some of these fish have been fairly solid and will put up a good show for themselves, especially when targeted on light gear. Grub-tailed soft plastics, soft vibes and surface lures like Bassday Sugapens in 70 and 95mm will do the job nicely, all you need to do is locate the baitfish schools and you will usually be able to draw out an explosive strike fairly quickly.
The upper reaches of the river are in dire need of some decent rain. Recent isolated falls have improved the flow a little. More falls throughout the catchment would make things even better. The bigger, deeper holes have some amazing bass in them, so if you can find an area free of weed you will be up for an awesome session.Reads: 1421