The fishing has been pretty good here over the past four weeks with a few black marlin still poking about just off the jail, with most of the action taking place slightly wider in 55 metres.
However, as the water cools marginally and turns more noticeably green, billfish numbers are certainly dropping. Most days over the past few weeks have produced between one and four fish per boat, as long as you put in a full day’s fishing. Perhaps by the time you read this it will be all over bar the shouting, but most who ventured up this way over the Summer months experienced a pretty good run of billfish. Fingers crossed that next season is also just as productive.
Lately some ripper cobia have come from the bait schools just off the jail with two outstanding fish of over 30kg mark falling for slimy mackerel slowly trolled by visiting anglers David and Rob, on board their boat Josh. The lads had a blinder week, landing something like 10 black marlin, four sailfish, two cobia, one yellowfin and an estimated 170kg blue marlin.
In the past 10 or so days I’ve heard of at least eight cobia ranging from 11kg to 33kg come in. Even I managed a personal-best cobe of 25kg, so they must be thick!
Other welcome visitors to the Jail Grounds were wahoo. Most fish simply bite the marlin guys off but Glen Woodward and crew aboard Express managed one of 18kg on a slow trolled live bait on mono. I ran into a few in the 11kg class down around Fish Rock but reports of 20kg- plus lads had me expecting bigger fish. I’d say that now the water has cooled, it wouldn’t be worth the effort looking for them but there should be plenty of kings and other goodies to keep you amused.
Those heading north weren’t disappointed, either, with good numbers of spotted mackerel frequenting the reefs off Grassy Head. Most are now in the 3kg to 4kg class, which is a good improvement from the run of 1.5kg to 2kg fish in previous months.
You can expect the spotties to bulk up markedly at the end of the run, which should taper off early this month. Hopefully we’ll get a few more Spanish mackerel come through.
There also have been a few northern bluefin tuna starting to show up. This can be deemed good or bad, depending on your outlook. Most serious mackerel fishos look at them as rubbish fish, but I enjoy the stubborn arguments you get from a decent northern blue, especially ones taken on surface lures or flies.
As I touched on before, Fish Rock and Black Rock are home to kingfish ranging from kilo rats to 10kg sluggers but most are only small and you’ll be doing some sifting through the rats to find the bigger fish. Perhaps it’s worth putting out some bigger baits and maybe tempting a big loner cruising about. If you’re down at Black Rock, it’s always worth putting a lure or live bait out on wire in the hope of a Spaniard.
The Macleay River has come alive with big flathead in the lower reaches after the small fresh, but some meatheads are killing far too many of these precious fish. A mate informed me of some greedy mug with at least six flathead ranging from 3kg to 5kg.
This sort of thing is simply stupid with today’s’ ever-dwindling fish stocks and if you get caught by Fisheries slaughtering this many big breeding fish, don’t expect any sympathy from them or me.
Most of the big fish are along the north wall and falling for live baits such as yellowtail and herring. If you do run into a few, do the right thing and let the big girls go. You’re only cutting your own throat by killing the breeders. Besides, they taste like old boots anyway.
Just around the corner is the bream, luderick, tailor, kingfish, snapper and mulloway season, so just because the weather’s cooling off, doesn’t mean you have to hang the rods on the garage wall for six months.
CAPTIONS FOR SLIDES
There are some great flathead poking around the lower reaches of the Macleay River. Wayne Colling caught (and released) this beauty of 5.2kg.
Some great cobia have come off the reefs just wide of Trial Bay Jail. This ripper pulled the scales down to an impressive 33kg.
With the water cooling, most of the billfish will be gone by the time you read this. Pics like this remind us of the great inshore run of billfish around South West Rocks over the past three months. Fingers crossed for a blinder next season.Reads: 691