Action amid the gusts
  |  First Published: December 2003

ANGLERS have been enjoying some pretty good action when the winds let them get at the fish.

Late Spring/early Summer is traditionally the windiest time of year for anglers as strong nor’-easters hammer much of the coast. But these frustrating winds are pretty well essential if we want warm, blue water holding exciting game fish, so it’s simply a matter of picking the good days (which usually fall mid-week) and getting out nice and early before they puff in again.

The nor’-easters have already driven down some good water containing some northern speedsters. Most of the trap buoys and the local FAD are housing some nice mahi mahi. So far, this season’s run has been great with most fish running around 6kg to 8kg. Last time I was out, there were schools of sauries being belted left, right and centre by 10kg to 12kg bruisers. I ended up landing six between 8kg and 12kg and got wiped out once as a clever fish took me up-current and wrapped the soft plastic lure around the buoy rope. One fellow ended up with one going 19kg, so if you like chasing mahi mahi, head out wide and look for anything that floats and cast towards it.

Reports of striped marlin in the 60kg to 90kg class have filtered through from those heading wide of 36 fathoms. Dragging a spread of proven lures wider in the good, blue water containing sauries has produced a few fish for the very few locals who actually target billfish. In a month or so we should see some little black marlin hit the Jail Ground and with a bit of luck they’ll be in good numbers, as in the past few seasons.

No reports of spotted mackerel have come through, though I suspect a little prospecting with small live slimy mackerel might raise an early-season fish. Most anglers simply wait until they hear they’re coming in thick and fast, but some one’s got to be first to find them there. And if he or she is smart about it, they’ll keep it all hush and enjoy the action before the crowds arrive. I’d say next report I’ll be talking about the first run of fish to arrive – stay tuned.

Some good kings have finally shown up at Fish Rock, though the numbers aren’t huge. Those putting out larger live baits are tempting a few sluggers from the depths using 24kg stand-up tackle. Drifting around with live tailor or small bonito will usually sort out the bigger fish, but make sure you’re geared up to suit.


In the Macleay most folks have gone flattie mad. Just ask Mark or Paul at Rocks Marine Bait and Tackle how the sale of soft plastics is going. They’re struggling to keep up with the sale of Squidgies and AusSpin jigs and tails.

Others chasing flathead are using traditional methods of pilchards and whitebait, or live baits of herring or yellowtail. Whatever method you choose just bear in mind most of the flathead are thinking about spawning, and if you’re lucky enough to hook a big fish, consider letting her go help conserve fish stocks in this mighty river.

Bream numbers seem to be pretty good in the river at present (mainly due to pro beach haulers packing up the kit before the fish ran the beaches) so most of the usual haunts are housing some nice fish. With the weather warming daily, the bream do tend to head up-river, so you should find a few in the small feeder creeks as well as the rock retaining walls towards Smithtown.

Mulloway numbers have been steady, though most of the fish are quite small by Macleay standards. One good fish to come off the South Wall went 24kg and fell for a live pike fished on heavy tackle. I’ve gone mad on lure-fishing for mulloway and in my past 12 sessions I’ve scored 28 mulloway to 9kg, releasing all but three. I’m surprised how effective it is, though the average fish is quite small compared with the run I caught on live bait from the shore. But the lures are far more fun and every fish hooked is a battle on the light tackle.

Bass numbers are steadily rising above Kempsey and those heading up are nearly always running into fish. Bass love herring so if you see the herring rising just on dark, flick surface lures through the middle and see if there’s any underneath.

The past dozen trips I’ve used only surface poppers and I think the worst session was nine fish to 46 cm. And with the thick weed growth at present, surface lures seem the best option.

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