Help from the heavens
  |  First Published: December 2004

It seems bizarre now that only last month I was complaining about the terribly slow fishing due to the exceptionally clear water from the severe drought in the region.

But in late October the skies opened and the trickling Macleay turning into an angry brown monster spewing trees, rafts of weed and navigational markers out to sea! A good mate moved over to South West Rocks from Narromine during the flood, leaving a hefty dust storm back home to arrive on the coast to see roads and bridges underwater. This truly is a land of extremes!

Heavy rains and flooding rivers usually mean one thing to serious mulloway anglers – big lures cast at the very mouth of the river. Mulloway line up like anglers at Fraser Island, bashing most things smaller than themselves being swept from the system. But not this time.

I’ve actually labelled it the Dud Flood as not one single mulloway was spun up at the mouth for the entire time it ran brown. I put in a pretty serious effort over four days, only to go home tail between my legs after every cruel session.

The week before the brown water around a dozen good jew were caught, most between 20kg and 24kg but once the water hit, it was all over bar the shouting.

Ironically, once the water began to clear the fish decided to play ball again and some nice fish were caught live-baiting the lower walls in the river.

By the time you read this there should be just a trace of remnant brown water at low tide and I suspect the jew fishing should be even better.

The rain wasn’t all bad news for the fishing as plenty of quality bream took up residence in the lower reaches, capitalising on the smorgasbord of tiny whitebait and prawns forced from the system. Those walking the walls flicking out lightly-weighted prawns, squid and mullet strips were running into some top bream.

Spinning the same walls with small plastics and deep-diving minnows is also producing the goods, especially around dawn and dusk.

The bass were going well before the rain and I suspect that now the water has cleared significantly they should be biting back up in the freshwater zones. But many of their favourite fallen trees may have been swept out the river month and now housing a mahi mahi or two many miles seaward!


The ocean fishing has been pretty good lately, especially around Fish Rock and Black Rock, for kingfish and snapper.

Traditionally after a ‘bump’ (big seas) snapper get pretty fired up on the shallow reefs and around the inshore islands. The amount of food smashed from the stones sees them very active for a short period and those capitalising on the feast usually don’t come home empty-handed.

Kingfish don’t need any excuse to feed vigorously as long as there’s a little flow and food on offer. The current has been running pretty strongly to the south and resident hoodlums have been willing. There are some good fish out there so take heavy gear and good supply of live baits.

Farther offshore mahi mahi have made a welcome appearance. At the time of writing they’re not overly thick but there are enough around to keep the punters happy. Some have been sizable fish, with biggest so far going 17kg.

I suspect their numbers will increase markedly by the time you read this and should be well worth heading out to the FAD at 36 fathoms or the traps (if they’re out) at 60 fathoms.

Reports of good cobia and a few wayward spotted mackerel to the north of us have stirred a few locals so hopefully the good push from the north will send a few our way very soon.

We’re also not too far off the annual run of inshore black marlin. Usually a few fish turn up in mid to late December, depending on current from the north and bait supplies on the Jail Ground. Hopefully I’ll get to talk about those stubborn, line-stripping runs and exciting aerial antics again soon.

So we went from drought to flood in the blink of an eye and apart from the peculiar antics of the local jewfish, the rains seem to have stirred up a few fish around South West Rocks.

More importantly, many dams are now full and the crisis that was looming has been put off until the next prolonged dry period.

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