Temperatures have dropped markedly since last month’s report with brisk mornings and cool southerly winds the norm.
While the air temp is down considerably, the ocean is still running at a balmy 23° to 24° though I suspect it will start dropping a few degrees very soon.
This transition period is a real goldmine for anglers, often producing a mixed bag of warm-water species as well as more temperate critters. While it may be getting harder to crawl out of bed lately, the results on the water can be well and truly worth it.
Again the big talk around town is the cobia run. They turned up in late December and haven’t left. I’m sure many fish have wandered south during this period, hence the good hauls as far south as Sydney, but it certainly seems many are just keen to hang around.
The biggest problem anglers are having with the cobes is sharks. Small fish can be wrestled in pretty smartly but bigger fish, thumping and bucking deep in the water, tend to attract sharks.
Most of the noahs are sizable whalers, though some reports suggest even fiercer models like whites and tigers. Until I see a white or tiger clearly at the back of the boat, I’m prepared to just call my bite-offs as whalers.
The cobia run is certainly the most spectacular I’ve seen since moving here in the early 1990s. It’s certainly more exciting than the usually sporadic one- to two-week runs we usually get per season.
As you’d imagine, there are not too many anglers complaining about the prolonged run of fish, although the numbers getting eaten by sharks is getting a bit out of hand.
Those stubborn enough to keep heading north in search of mackerel deserve a medal. The painful trickle of quality fish lured many anglers north, with very few even recording a modest bag for the season.
I headed up three times for the year. First trip in December I scored well, landing around nine to 6kg – you beauty! Next trip in February saw one live bait panic in four hours of slow trolling.
The third and final trip in April produced one lone bonito. The bright side is I went north only three times and lost a total of two rigs for the season. Other than that, it was all doom and gloom.
Snapper anglers fishing baits and soft plastics have fared a little better, especially those getting up super-early (actually being on the fishing grounds before sunrise) and fishing the week or so before the full moon.
For some reason this moon phase is a winner for many species, with the likes of snapper and jewfish really coming to life.
This time of year is traditionally the start of the mullet, bream and tailor run, with the ocean rocks and beaches really starting to fire.
There have already been plenty of anglers hooking tailor around 1.5kg to 2kg off the ocean rocks. These are top fish by today’s standards and perhaps a prelude of even bigger fish to come.
Flicking cubes of pilchards or flesh of mullet or tuna around the washy gutters is turning up some top bream. Most of the fish caught from now on are well above legal size with plenty around a kilo. If you’re ever going to pin a true beast over 1.5kg, now is the time to do it.
Bigger baits fished after dark seem to be the way to go, though you do have to sift your way through the big tailor and occasional jewfish. All in all, it’s pretty good time to be fishing the beaches and ocean rocks.
The Macleay is running a little clear, making fishing the lower reaches very tough at high tide and difficult at low. There seem to be plenty of fish around, however, with most walls showing good schools of bream and luderick but the exceptionally clear water is putting many off the bite.
There are still some quality flathead with a few good fish from 2.4kg to 3kg hugging the rock walls near the mouth. Water clarity is of less interest to them but you still need to use a little stealth to get consistent results.
Jewfish numbers should be steadily building over the next few months, following the mullet run as they slowly edge their way towards the river mouth. It’s a great time to cast bigger live baits and lures, working the tidal changes around dawn and dusk.
With the water so clear, I’d be looking at fishing the low tides more than the highs.
Other than the cool starts, it’s pretty good time of year to hit the water, be it offshore, beach, rock or estuary.Reads: 644