Mixed fortunes continue
  |  First Published: October 2006

It’s been another month of mixed fortunes for anglers around South West Rocks, due to unseasonably warm water and air temperatures and some careless land management practices on the lower Macleay.

The river fishing in the Macleay has been bloody lousy for nearly four weeks. Coincidence or not, but the second it went down hill was the when the first push of ‘black water’ spewed from the floodgates at Bellmore, Clybucca and Kinchela creeks.

Until the lifeless black water inundated the lower reaches, bream, blackfish and jewfish were biting freely. Once the floodgates opened it was all over bar the shouting for nearly a month.

There were a few nice fish caught while the gates spewed bad water but the action centred around high tide, when incoming clean ocean water put some life back into the system. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs when a few obsolete floodgates can dictate the fishing results for the entire reaches below. I say rip ’em out and let Nature decide what’s best.

OK, I’ll lighten up a little. Out to sea things have been quite good with a good mix of cool-water species. Up north those chasing inshore reds have been kept busy with a steady stream of fish from 1kg to 3kg on soft plastics and bait. The lure fishos are working the shallows early and the bait crew staying out a touch wider. But it does show the snapper are fairly widespread and happily feeding in 15m to 40m.

Heading south will probably produce some good kingfish, as traditionally this is the month for fish from 10kg to 20kg at Fish Rock and Black Rock. Recent reports indicate the run of fish is still quite small, with most 2kg to 4kg but I suspect things will change soon and the bigger fish will show so when you head south, take some heavy gear and sizable live baits.


Along the ocean rocks there’s a good mix of bream, blackfish and tailor. The swell has been anything from dead flat to frightening but the more settled days with around a metre of swell are producing the most fish. As usual, bream and tailor have been feeding best around dawn and dusk.

The blackfish are a little less picky and have been biting quite well when there’s been a little inshore wash. Plenty of drummer, silvers and blacks, have been coming in from the rocks below the jail.

As I said, the lower reaches of the Macleay have been pretty lousy but I suspect that with the black water slowly fading and clean seawater pushing in daily, most river species will begin to feed freely again. The flathead will be first to fire as they usually become becoming quite active again this time of year, especially on the warmer run-in tides.

If we’re lucky there may be a late run of blackfish but I’d say the handful of lousy weeks when they bit freely might well have been their seasonal run. I’ll try again next year.

Bream have been in good numbers close to the river mouth, feeding primarily on the run-in tides. With the water clearing, we should see the them move back up into the system in all their usual haunts.

Bass anglers are starting to stir. I got all excited last month after watching Dave Seaman’s Wild River Bass DVD and have headed up a few times trying to pin a monster. So far the result is a handful of sluggish post-Winter fish down deep, though I remain positive about getting some big fish off the surface shortly. The run in the lower reaches was a bit slow by usual standards so let’s hope the warm-weather run is little more exciting.

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