Blue water at long last!
  |  First Published: March 2008

If I see any more rain I’ll go insane! While it hasn’t actually rained for a week or so now, the seemingly endless squalls are pure nuisance value, slowing the river’s return to normal and spewing lousy water onto the inshore reefs.

In years gone by a fresh was a good thing. Nowadays they equate to lousy fishing with toxic water either killing fish in its path or sending them out to sea until things return to normal. And after this ‘Summer’, I don’t know what weather is supposed to be!

Ok, I’ll stop whingeing; life isn’t too bad at South West Rocks. The good news is we finally have blue water.

The East Coast Current kicked into gear big-time in late January and the horrible, lifeless green water that’s plagued us for months was swept away and replaced with cobalt-blue 25° water right to the rocks.

With the new water came all sorts of goodies with wahoo, dollies, cobia and Spanish mackerel showing up in force. The wahoo have been a little wider with those trolling out around 60 fathoms scoring these highly mobile speedsters.

Also out over the 60-fathom reefs are mahi mahi. The Fisheries FAD has been holding some quality fish, with 8kg to 10kg fish an average size. Quite a few closer to 20kg have also been caught, though these bigger fish tend to move in, feed up and drift off again.

Most of the cobia action has taken place inshore, with good schools of fish inundating the shallow reefs just of Trial Bay Jail.

If your timing is right you can expect plenty of action with the cobes taking anything from live slimies to dead bonito. But if your timing is out, like mine last trip, you can expect frustration.

John Grant and I timed our outing perfectly to coincide with the tail end of a hot bite and we judiciously left the second they fired up again! Something like 30 fish were caught during the hour we wasted catching live baits.

I had to laugh but it was pretty frustrating and hopefully not something I’ll repeat for a long time.

But where are the marlin? At the time of writing we have everything but billfish and unless things dramatically change (which they certainly seem to do around here!) we me be in for a very lame season. Fingers crossed they have turned up by the time you read this.


A few sizeable Spanish mackerel have hit the inshore reefs with fish up to 22kg weighed in.

The most effective way to target these bigger fish is with larger livies. Tailor, bonito and big pike work a treat. Set the anchor and run a few big live baits out under balloons on the northern reefs and see what happens. If there’s a few Spanish around a struggling livie usually won’t last too long.

We’re certainly due for a good run of bar mackerel so let’s hope this season they’ll show up in some numbers.

Most of the action over the past month has taken place offshore but with the good push of warm water, flathead have kicked into gear in the Macleay River. Drifting the tidal flats up towards Stuarts Point is a good way to score a feed of these tasty fellows and live bating the deeper walls will usually produce a bigger class of fish.

Jewfish have been very quiet. In fact this is the worst I’ve seen them in 15 years. It’s that bad it makes you wonder if it’s really worth the effort.

Perhaps they’re building up in numbers but as it stands there’s been no jewfish action in the Macleay for nearly two months.

Bream have been pretty consistent during the whole Summer with good numbers of smaller fish heading up-river into the feeder arms and creeks. The main river has been fishing OK but it’s the smaller water and tidal flats that have been the most productive.

If the storms stop bombing the catchment we may get a chance to head up-river. As it stands the water heights are fine but every couple of days a new storm cell dumps a few more inches on the range, bringing up the river height and making life for anglers pretty lousy.

But when the water levels have been fairly stable the fishing has been great, with quality bass in most sections of the Macleay above Greenhills. With all the rain this has definitely not been a season you’d comfortably pitch a tent bankside!

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