Marlin, sailfish show up
  |  First Published: December 2008

Fickle but confidence-inspiring warm currents have made it to South West Rocks.

The other day it was royal blue 23.5°, full of bait and a few small black marlin and at least one sailfish were caught.

A few days later it was green and cool, with no bait and no game fish. Today it was blue, clean and looked just like a postcard from Fiji – but no bait, and no game fish.

This frustrating inconsistency is unfortunately pretty normal for early Summer but by the time you read this it should be warm and full of exciting game fish.

When the water is warm and pushing south, kingfish have fired up at Fish Rock, with plenty of fish from 2kg to 4,g. There’s been the odd bigger fish taken by those sending out larger live baits, but usually from now on the kings increase in numbers but decrease in size.

If heading down that way, take a range of tackle from 6kg to 24kg. If there are only small fish around, you can still have a ball flicking poppers and soft plastics on the light gear. If the big lads show, break out the heavy gear and send down some sizable live baits, knife jigs or soft plastics.

Many people think warm water means the snapper head out wider but here at SWR there are always a few big reds lingering on the inshore grounds.

Any reef up off Grassy and Scotts heads in 10m to 20m depths is likely to hold a few big snapper and those fishing early with quality bait and lures stand a chance of nailing a trophy fish.

Sure, there are usually greater numbers of inshore reds during the cooler months but Summer is still well worth a shot if you’re keen on chasing snapper.

The new push of warm water has slowed down many bread-and-butter rock species, with the likes of tailor, bream, drummer and blackfish pretty well out for the season.

Replacing them should be some exciting northern visitors with the likes of cobia and mackerel frequenting the rocks at Grassy Head and down at Hat Head.

Both species are very current-dependent, so no run, no fun. Fingers crossed for electric blue water and you stand a good chance of finding a fish or two.


Last month the Macleay flathead were temperamental at best but now it seems they’ve settled into a normal feeding pattern.

I’ve chased flatties only twice since the warm water arrived and I have to say things have certainly improved.

The first outing produced six nice fish, with two over 5kg – naturally, all were released.

The next outing yielded four quality fish, with one around a kilo being inhaled boatside by a thumping lizard around 6kg or 7kg. You see some great sights on the water, and this fully lit-up lizard clobbering the hapless flattie is one that will stick with me for many years to come.

For the smaller, tastier fish, anglers should head up Stuarts Point way and start flicking lures and baits around the ample weed beds and shallow sand banks.

Most of the fish encountered around the shallow weed edges are 500g to 1.2kg, which not only taste terrific but also are great fun on light spin gear.

Smaller soft plastics from 75mm to 100mm are pretty hard to beat with chartreuse and orange standout colours.


Mulloway have gone quiet again. The past two years have been very cruel for keen mulloway anglers like me, with most trips failing to produce.

In years gone by mulloway were daily occurrences, with most outings turning up one to three fish. Lately, though, if you can find a jewfish every three trips, you’re doing well.

Maybe it’s a seasonal cycle and things will return to normal over time, or perhaps mulloway numbers are simply not sustainable and the past few years are now considered the norm.

I certainly hope not because mulloway are one of the main reasons I love my river fishing so much. Hopefully this is just a bad cycle and with the warm weather we’ll see the mulloway return.

Bass anglers are still enjoying a good run of fish up above Kempsey.

Naturally, some days they bite better than others, but if you head up under nice, summery conditions you can expect to find a few fish in most sections of the Macleay.

Most the fish encountered are 30cm to 40cm and any fish above 40cm is a nice sized bass, even by North Coast standards

. Those around or over the magical 50cm mark are well worth skiting about indeed. Despite what many would have you believe, fish of this size are very rare animals indeed.

If you score one or two in a lifetime, you’ve done very well.

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