A marked improvement
  |  First Published: September 2005

Another month has flown by and when you consider how lousy the fishing was a few weeks ago, that’s a bloody good thing!

Things have, however, changed markedly for the better. While the fish aren’t biting their heads off they’re certainly more active than they have been for a while. I’m not too sure why things have improved but it’s probably a combination of a number of factors, with the most influential likely to have been stabilised water temperatures and some good coastal rain.

The main thing is that there’s a reasonable chance of snaring a few fish when you head out for a day on the water – unlike last month.

There have been kingfish at Black Rock and Fish Rock.

There’s been an absolute drought on kings for nearly two years so it’s a welcome sight to behold schools of fish up to 12kg busting the baitfish again. Last trip down there they were crashing wayward sauries and pilchards so let’s hope the bait schools hang around for some time.

Those chasing reds have started to smile again with most of the reefs between Grassy head and Scotts Head holding a few fish. As usual, those heading out for an afternoon session have had the most luck.

That’s not to say you won’t bag any fish during a morning run because those getting up before dawn have returned to the ramp with some great fish. It’s just that the snapper seem to bite more freely as the sun fades.

If you head up pretty close to the full moon you should bust a few better-sized fish.

Remember that the Trial Bay Coastal Patrol is not on the air after 6pm at the moment so make sure you take a mobile phone so you can log off. I know it’s crazy but that’s the way it is until the new Coastal Patrol building is finished.

Along the rocky headlands, tailor have kept many anglers busy. The most productive spots have been North Gap, Little Bay and Gibraltar, which have produced good numbers of quality fish.

Mixed in with the choppers have been some quality bream with some absolute rippers being taken beneath the tailor schools. The biggest I’ve heard of went just under 2kg cleaned – an awesome bream by anyone’s standards.

Around Hat head the salmon have been pretty thick, muscling in on carefully-presented pilchard baits meant for tailor. I’ve also heard of a few reports of small cobia hugging the stones so not every ‘salmon’ that has been hooked is likely to be green and silver.

The Macleay River has fired up nicely since the rain. The downpours that swept the entire North Coast and South East Queensland have certainly improved the river fishing.

It seems that many of the bream and flathead that were miles upstream have moved into the lower reaches, particularly from Jerseyville to the river mouth. There’s been an interesting mix of dark, up-river bream mixed with the clean, silver fish straight off the beaches and headlands.

The flathead action has certainly picked up. My most recent session, down near the boat ramp, produced eight fish to a kilo. Bear in mind that I was shore-based, never moved a centimetre and was simply trying to find a few pike for bait!

It seems most of the vast lower rock walls are much the same, with good numbers of smallish flathead calling the area home. It will be interesting to see if they thin out again or build steadily as we edge closer to Spring.

Blackfish anglers are lining up at places like white rocks, The Wire Fence and Kemps Corner. These sport are just a few of the productive blackfish haunts in the lower Macleay but because anglers fish there every day and regularly pull fish, the regulars keep coming back and the newcomers know that that’s the place to catch fish.

A little exploring will rind dozens of luderick hot spots away from the masses and if you have a boat you’ll find countless spots well worth a drift with the long float.

The Winter run of bass was a fizzer for most keen anglers with only a few good days recorded for the season. Whether this is just a seasonal thing or something more sinister is yet to be worked out.

Hopefully the fish were just playing hardball in the cold water and are simply preparing themselves for the assault in Spring and Summer. Time will tell, I guess, but in the meantime I’d better tie up a few Dahlbergs just in case.

Jewfish numbers have picked up slightly but they’re still not biting with any regularity..

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