Start your engines!
  |  First Published: December 2005

A quick look at the sea surface temperature maps on the internet shows all signs of a promising game fishing season to come.

Last time I looked it was a promising 23° inside the 60-fathom mark, plenty warm enough for some northern speedsters like mahi mahi and billfish.

Only last night I was speaking to a local fellow who’d seen marlin free-jumping up off Grassy Head. Reports from those heading out beyond 100 fathoms suggest good things to come soon.

It’s a pretty exciting time for anglers at South West Rocks. Spring, as usual, was fairly slow, seemingly building the suspense for the blue water to come.

But this is all pretty well the norm for now; an early push of good water, then often a lull between the main solid stream heading south.

While it can be a bit of a tease, the first push often delivers us mahi mahi and baby blacks to get the show started. Time will tell, but everything is shaping up for another good game fish season. I hope a few more anglers start using circle hooks for billfish and let the vast majority go.


Right now we’re enjoying a steady run of kingfish. They’re not all monsters but there’s enough solid 3kg to 6kg fish to keep the punters happy.

I must admit the old kingfish is pretty high up on my favourites list and certainly one species I look forward to tangling with every season.

Nowadays I tend to chase them with lures and flies more than bait, with a preference for topwater offerings like poppers. Kings just love anything that splutters across the surface, making for spectacular strikes when they decide to hammer them.

But they still like livies and there are days they won’t hit anything else, so don’t head south without a decent supply of yellowtail or slimies.

Snapper anglers have been getting results this month, with good numbers of kilo to 2kg fish biting in the 40-metre zone off Grassy, Middle and Scotts heads.

There’s a mile of reef up that way so do some exploring and you should be able to local the better reefs with good bait supplies present.


In the Macleay River the push of warm water (21.8° at the time of writing) has stirred up a few sleepy lizards. There are a few bigger fish along the deep walls but most of the action is taking place on the tidal flats.

If you enjoy chasing flathead on lures, now is a good time to start exploring the shallow country. Try chartreuse or orange Squidgies with jig heads around 20g.

Bream anglers have been struggling. Usually there are pretty good numbers in the mid sections of the rivers as the fish slowly make their way up to the brackish zones and the small feeder creeks but this season they seem to be very scattered at best.

I’ve fished a few of my favourite haunts lately for only half a dozen fish a trip – a far cry from the usual 20-plus fish caught and released per session. Hopefully as the water warms even more and the prawns thicken up, we’ll see some action from these spirited little fish.

Bass anglers are struggling a bit, too. You can still head up with very reasonable expectations of finding a few fish but you may only run into two to four bass, perhaps half a dozen if they’re firing.

Again, I’m not sure what the problem is but most keen lure and fly anglers are hoping for a vast improvement quickly.

So while the river is a little slow for bream and bass, flathead are plodding along nicely.

And with the first good push of warm northern water already within range of most trailer boats, the action offshore should keep our minds off the slightly below-average river fishing.

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