Things are certainly warming up on the Mid North Coast with balmy Spring days allowing a few more warm-weather species to fire up.
It’s a good time of year for fishing, and always a relief to shake off the cold for another five months or so.
The ocean is not exactly boiling, with temps around 20°, but that hasn’t slowed the fishing. While we haven’t got many exciting Summer species yet, snapper and kingfish have kept many offshore anglers entertained.
Early starts heading north have produced some quality snapper on the northern reefs for the lure fishos, with longer bite times for the baitfishing crew.
The last few times I headed that way I noted the snapper seemed to fade away a bit. First session produced seven reds to 2.5kg, the next four to 2kg and the final session a single 2kg fish. Perhaps they’re not happy with the water warming up but whatever the reason, it seems the inshore run of reds is slowing down a tad.
Those heading south to Fish Rock and Black Rock have found a definite increase in kingfish numbers. There don’t seem to be too many monsters at either location, just solid numbers of just-legal fish and a reasonable number of better fish from 6kg to 8kg.
There are nearly always some XOS thugs down that way but the more prevalent smaller fish usually beat the big sluggers to the bait. Livebaiting has been the most productive method, followed very closely by jigging soft plastics.
The first of the true Summer fish has arrived. There are some solid mahi mahi on the local FAD with good numbers of fish from 5kg to 8kg. These spectacular high flyers are always welcome and certainly add spice to any offshore session.
It will be interesting to see if their numbers increase as the water really begins to heat up, perhaps bringing a few 20kg rogues like it did last year.
In the Macleay River the first push of warmer water allowed the local flathead to fire up. I had a few sessions last week and found some big flathead up to 5.8kg hugging the lower walls. There didn’t appear to be large numbers about but there were enough big fish to make a wall jigging session worth the effort.
I must admit I really enjoy chasing these big bruisers. Every obstinate head shake and powerful, short surge has you guessing the size. And when they appear from the depths, you’d have to be pretty jaded not to get excited at any flathead over the old-fashioned 10lb mark.
I’m hoping this year I can bet my personal best of 9.8kg and land an absolute best like my good mate Shane Van Dyk did last season. His measured 110 cm and would have been every bit of 12kg. And like all thinking anglers, he released the big girl to help keep our river system healthy with flathead numbers.
Jewfish were very quiet over the cooler months but now it seems they’re starting to bite again. There have been reasonable numbers of 6kg to 10kg fish at home on the lower walls, falling to lures and livebaits.
This time of year usually sees larger numbers of school jewfish (2kg to 5kg) frequent the walls from Jerseyville down, making for some fun days flicking plastics around on light threadline and baitcasting gear. The bonus of some over-sized flathead keeps you on your toes also.
With the warm weather, up-river bass began to fire up nicely. Pretty well from Kempsey road bridge as far as you care to travel upstream there’s likely to be bass biting. They’re not going nuts but you’ll more than likely run into a decent number if you put in a little effort.
I just returned from a three- hour session well above Kempsey and was surprised at the number of quality fish. I caught only 11 but virtually all were over 600g with the biggest around 1.6kg and 45cm fork length.
It’s still pretty early as far as the bass season goes and I’m sure we’ll have months of surface popper action as the warm weather intensifies.Reads: 716