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The South West Rocks are cooling off
  |  First Published: May 2017



Summer has once again passed us by now, and although the Mid North Coast of NSW has a fairly mild climate, shorter, cooler days definitely start to thin out the crowds, even though there is still plenty of good fishing to be had.

The first of May marks the first day of the closed season for bass in NSW waters, meaning these fish can still be targeted, however, all fish must be returned to the water unharmed to provide minimal interruption to the species’ breeding cycle.

In late March the region was absolutely battered by huge storms and a massive amount of rain fell in the Macleay catchment. The river rose up to the minor flood level. This rise brought a much needed flush to the upper reaches of the river. Before this rise the upper reaches had become fairly low, and huge expanses of weed were choking all the bigger holes.

The large volumes of water have now cleared out the river and gone right through the system and out to sea. The annual bass migration was also given a kick start by the rise, with a lot of fish already being found down in the tidal zones around Smithtown.

Further down towards the mouth of the river, it’s business as usual for this time of year. Bream and luderick are starting to be found in large schools, concentrating mainly along the rock walls. Large mulloway and flathead will become increasingly active around these schools of spawning fish. Large soft plastics, hardbody lures and live baits become almost irresistible to these fish when they are in this mode.

The action on the flats has slowed right down now, however there have been plenty of good bream up around the oyster racks of Clybucca Creek.

Offshore we’re heading towards the end of the pelagic season for this area. The mackerel season was not as red hot as the last few years, although some good Spanish have still been getting caught up off Grassy Head at times.

Longtail tuna are around the place in good quantities. There have been some cracker longtail tuna around the headlands, and mac and striped tuna have also been in good numbers. These fish are not so great on the table, however, make great bait for the winter reef dwelling species.

At this time the currents begin to slow right down and the weather usually becomes fairly settled. This is a sign to get the electric reels out and head wide. Kingfish, bar cod, bass groper and a whole array of species are all out there and have been basically untouched throughout the warmer months. This fishery is very weather dependant, so it pays to plan around weather windows, and only head out if the conditions are right.

In on the shallower grounds there are plenty of pearl perch, snapper, kingfish, teraglin and mulloway. Depths between 50-120m are a great place to start. There’s miles of ground that holds a huge variety of fish, all of which are great on the plate.

May is a great time to hit the beaches. Many species of spawning fish will migrate along the beaches during the colder months. Not only do these fish provide a target for anglers, the larger species of tailor, salmon and mulloway are never too far away.

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