Reaping the rewards
  |  First Published: April 2017

At last some consistent good water has hit our region, and we’re starting to reap the rewards. Bait species including bonito, mac tuna, slimy mackerel and pike are in abundance, and the bigger predators that eluded us earlier in the year are now about in numbers.

Mackerel catches have been fairly good, and there seems to be equal amounts of Spaniards and spotties. Slow trolling live baits and anchoring up with a berley trail have been the most productive methods for catching mackerel. However, with the amount of bait that is present, sharks have become a bit of an issue. This is a common problem at this time of year. To avoid these sharks for a while when they are thick, try fishing away from the pack, or trolling hardbody lures and skirts around areas holding bait.

Some solid cobia have been caught from around the bait grounds from Grassy Head down to Hat Head, and there have been a few decent kings hanging around Fish Rock. The waters outside of Fish Rock have been alive with small tuna. Large patches of bait like this are hard to go past at this time of year when it comes to locating big fish.

The crowds on the headlands are starting to grow now, with cobia and kingfish being present as well as Spanish mackerel coming in on the bait schools. Bluefin tuna will hit our area any day now, and these fish are a very popular land-based game species on the mid north coast.

Lately the river has been full of baitfish. Kingfish, cobia, mulloway and even some small mackerel and tuna have been found terrorising these schools on occasions. Flathead are in good numbers in the mid reaches of the Macleay between Jerseyville and Smithtown. Most fish are being found tight against the rock walls, waiting in ambush for unsuspecting prey.

Big bream are coming out of the same regions, with lightly-weighted grub-tailed soft plastics accounting for the trophy fish. Big schools of trevally are in the river as well, and they’ve been consistently found as far up as Smithtown and into the Belmore River. These fish become very explosive when they round up a school of fish, and are awesome fun on small surface lures if you’re in the right place at the right time.

Now is the beginning of the prime time for beach fishing in the Macleay region. It pays to get in early though before the commercial presence ramps up for winter. Bream, whiting, tailor and mulloway are all being caught from the sand, with clear, crisp mornings producing some awesome fishing without the crowds.

The catchment has received a bit of rain lately and the river definitely looks better for it. Bass fishing has been fair upriver, however the fish will start moving down into the salt soon for their winter migration. The surface bite has still been pretty good of an afternoon, with spinnerbaits and divers producing the goods during the day.

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