Royal blue and hot to trot
  |  First Published: March 2005

The eagerly awaited blue water has finally arrived, pushing down strongly and royal blue with temps around 24° to 26°.

This great band of bath-warm water brought with it some northern goodies but it was certainly a shaky start. Many anglers arriving early to chase billfish left in despair after many failed sessions.

Some stuck it out and were partially rewarded for their persistence. Now, ironically, with most marlin chasers out of town, things have started to kick on with blacks and stripes caught virtually daily. And now it looks set to be another bumper light-tackle game season.

Reports of a few suspect bite-offs on the reefs close off Scotts and Grassy heads have been filtering through. A few anglers have put out small live slimy mackerel under floats and have hooked spotted mackerel.

At the time of writing there hasn’t been any great number of fish caught but I suspect that with fish in pretty good numbers north of us, things will only improver over the following weeks.

Those heading south have scored on most trips with kingfish and the odd cobia poking around Fish Rock and Black Rock. Most of the kings have been around 4kg but there’s always a chance of a bigger king or two.

Last month some snapper to 7kg fell to live baits fished deep for kingfish, so don’t be too surprised if the ‘king’ turns out to be red with a few blue dots. Live yellowtail have brought most of the kings and the good snapper undone so don’t head south without a good supply in the bait tank.

Farther to sea, around the 60-fathom mark, mahi mahi have been on most FADs and trap buoys. There’s not a huge number of big fish, with most going 2kg to 3kg, but a sprinkling 8kg to 12kg fish have been caught.

As with the kingfish reefs, I wouldn’t head out to 60 fathoms without a good supply of live baits. Small to medium yakkas are nice and hardy and most dollies can’t help but smash them.

It’s good fun and often very visual fishing with graphic strikes and acrobatic leaps, and the catch tastes good to boot. Just don’t go overboard on them like some shameless holidaymakers last month, filling two 80-litre eskies to the brim.

I’m looking forward to the day Fisheries decide to put a bag and size limit on dollies. As it stands, it is open slather and easy pickings for any meathead keen to exploit and black-market these terrific sportfish.


In the Macleay River it’s all systems go. The noisy holiday period is now well behind us and nervous fish not used to endless boat traffic have come out of hiding and are biting freely again.

To give you an example, I lure-fished a few times in the lower reaches for bream, scoring only a handful of fish for the entire holiday period. First session once the boats all departed, I got 25 bream in only a few hours.

It’s not rocket science, it’s simply a case of fish being used to what they’re used to. You’d probably find fish in Sydney Harbour would stop biting if the boats weren’t whizzing about!

With the water at its warmest, this is a pretty good time to look for smaller dusky flathead up on the tidal flats. You won’t find too many monsters but there’s usually a string of sub-2kg fish keen to hit most baits, lures and flies.

Success usually has more to do with a stealthy approach rather than bait presentation, but combine both nicely and you can look forward to some hectic action working these prolific tidal zones.

Bream anglers should start working the upper reaches of the saltwater influence. Bream seem to instinctively make their way up-river during the warmer months, usually schooling up along the deep sections of river before fanning out into the smaller tributaries and arms.

It’s not uncommon to find silver bream virtually in ‘bass water’ at the top end of the tidal influence, and sometimes beyond in pure fresh. The mid to upper sections of the big North Coast rivers can be interesting fisheries at this time of year.

Keep heading up and you’ll find some co-operative bass. With cicadas in full swing ringing through the tree tops, it’s time to start working various surface lures to good effect. Bass usually take topwater plugs virtually year round but the noisy cicada period sees them even more fired up.

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