Heads, you catch fish; tails you don’t
  |  First Published: September 2006

It’s been an interesting month with good hauls one day and very little the next. In fact it’s been one of the most hit-and-miss periods we’ve had in a long while.

It can be absolutely frustrating if you’re timing is out and fantastic if it’s in. It’s been real flip-of-the-coin stuff.

Due to a combination of things I haven’t fished as much as usual this month, only hitting the water five times in the past four weeks. In hindsight, I could have stayed at home and caught virtually the same amount but if I’d fished a little harder on the ‘good’ days, I could have fared quite well. So, if things don’t rapidly pick up, you may struggle a bit on most fronts.

While the fishing has been hit and miss for most species, it seems the humble luderick is happy to bite most days. The key has been fishing the tidal changes with the last of the run out the most reliable in the lower reaches of the river.

The cagey anglers with secret weed sourced from mythical ponds seem to be faring the best but the green weed sold locally at Rocks Marine Bait and Tackle is also pinning quite a few. Try around The Wire Fence, the Jew Bite, along the main south wall. On the northern side of the river, The Cut, the Green Pole (near the old house) and White Rocks, 400m short of the river mouth, are best spots.

There has been a sporadic run of jewfish in the lower Macleay. It seems they bite only when I’m at home so if you see me on the water, head for the ramp and save some petrol. Seriously, those fishing early morning or into the night are scoring the most, as the excessively clear water has kept the fish pretty quiet during the day.


We really need a good period of consistent rain. We get a few millimetres here and there, then nothing for weeks, allowing the river to run clear again. As it stands, if you want the best possible shot at a jewfish, fish when the sun is off the water.

Bream anglers are also struggling. There are definitely reasonable numbers of good fish in the river but again, the clear water is becoming a major problem. If you don’t mind the cold, fish after dark around the tidal change – particularly low tide.

Keen bass anglers have been struggling, too. With the lack of rain and subsequent high salinity, many fish are still well above Kempsey bridge. While the season started off all guns blazing, things have certainly slowed a bit now, particularly in the more traditional lower Winter haunts. But having said that, with a little exploring you may well still find good concentrations of fish up-river.

Offshore anglers are battling away with a mix of bottom ooglies up north and a few small kingfish down south. It seems the cobia have all headed to warmer water and after the amazing six-month run, the local reefs now seem a little empty. Hopefully later in the year (perhaps around December) we’ll see them return in numbers, though I suspect we may never see a run quite like we had.

As the offshore fishing has been pretty slow all round, many anglers here are thinking more long-term, hoping for a good run of spotted and Spanish mackerel when the warm water returns. In the short term, hopefully some of those big kings will show up in the next month or so – fingers crossed for something to keep me awake!.

Bream and tailor have been biting quite well on the local headlands with most falling to the trusty ganged hook and pilchard combo. Those fishing more specifically for bream have been using pilchards cut into small cubes and flicking the lightly weighted baits into the washes.

Both species have been in pretty good numbers and I suspect will bite freely for the next few months.

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