It’s bread-and-butter time
  |  First Published: August 2006

In the grip of Winter it’s only fitting that the more recognised cold-water species are starting to bite well.

Gone are most of the flighty northern visitors, leaving us with a staple diet of traditional southern bread-and-butter fish until the warm currents sweep past again later in the year.

Talk to inshore divers and you soon realise the most prolific headland-dwelling species are bream and tailor. There are a few jewfish as well but the bulk of what’s running the ocean rocks and beaches are silver bream and choppers.

There have been some nice bream taken around North Gap, Gibraltar and Mermaid Pool. The pic of the tailor spots seems to be North Gap and, further south, near the lighthouse at The Cow Hole.

While these locations have seen most of the action, it’s fair to say you’re likely to pic up a few good bream and tailor pretty well anywhere there’s a little wash and a few sunken rocks in close. Time your outing for a late afternoon shift and the odds are you’ll pin some nice fish.

Another species seem in great abundance along the ocean rocks has been blackfish. With virtually all the netters gone, it’s only fair to assume many of these travelling fish may end up in the local river systems.

Traditionally in the Macleay River the luderick don’t seem to hit their stride until July-August, so now’s the time to track down some good weed and try the usual haunts, such as White Rock, The Wire Fence and The Cut, for a few blackfish. There are definitely fish in the river (you can see them on high tide) and with some local sea cabbage or good green weed, you should be in with a show from now on.

I must admit the Macleay River has been pretty tough going of late but thankfully some much-needed rain recently seems to have fired up a few fish. The water has been super-clear for months so the 80mm-plus rainfall was just what the doctor ordered to inspire a few fish to feed again.

Those fishing after dark for bream and jewfish were fairing OK but daytime action was pretty well non-existent. Things seem much better now so get out there before the water clears too much again.

The recent rain should also help the local bass. I chased them pretty hard last month before the rain and the fish seemed very cautious and lethargic at best. I suspect now they’ll be happily feeding again somewhere between the Kempsey highway bridge and Smithtown.


Out to sea has been a bit sketchy – fish one day, nothing the next. You hear good reports of cobia on Sunday and by Monday it’s over bar the shouting.

The same goes for snapper. Fish bite well one day, then virtually nothing is caught the next.

Last weekend was a classic. Despite the good weather and a calm river bar, there were barely a dozen boats out and only one charter operator. It seemed pretty weird to me but after six hours flogging some usually very productive haunts, the decidedly empty creel helped piece the puzzle together. I spoke to several other anglers out that day – same thing, diddly squat. But in a few days everything was back on track – cobia, snapper and some nice samson fish – go figure.

Those heading south in search of kingfish are still being disappointed. There are a few just-legal fish there but the expected solid Winter fish just haven’t arrived yet. Usually the later the better, with August and September perhaps being the most reliable months for bigger hoodlums.

But for those chasing reds, there have been some beauties caught, mostly on soft plastics. Black Rock seems the pick of the plastic chuckin’ spots and the earlier in the day the better.

While it hasn’t been the best month for fishing up this way, it certainly hasn’t been the worst. That rain certainly got the Macleay started again and hopefully we’ll get some follow-up rain to keep the system going.

The ocean has run pretty hot and cold but the local headlands are fishing quite well. While not firing on all cylinders, ‘The Rocks’ is running reasonably smoothly, nonetheless.

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