Another month has slipped by and anglers on the Holiday Coast have been busy enjoying a good run of fish both offshore and in the estuary systems. While the local boat ramps have been very busy places indeed, once out on the water the influx of holidaymakers hasn’t been an issue - there’s plenty of water for everyone.
Those fishing in and around South West Rocks can expect to find a few feisty black marlin poking around just off the gaol. And whilst they haven’t been as thick as hoped, there’s been enough action to make a lure or live bait outing well worth the effort. If the marlin do prove a little elusive, there’s a few nice cobia sneaking around the inshore reefs that may well snaffle your offer.
As usual there’s plenty of boats chasing game fish just off the gaol, so it’s good practice to show a little respect for other anglers by not crowding them too much if they’re sitting on a bait school. Marlin have big tails and can be found pretty well anywhere, and by being a little more adventurous and covering plenty of water, not only will you most likely find a roaming marlin, your may well stumble on your own patch of bait being carefully guarded by billfish or cobia.
Those heading north and south looking for quality snapper have struggled a bit over the past month. Snapper often go a little quiet when the warm water arrives but there’s usually a few around to make an early morning or late afternoon session still worthwhile. Usually what you lack in numbers you make up for in size. Most snapper caught during the warmer months are solid fish indeed, with some real thumpers over the 10kg mark being caught inshore at this time of year.
Locals and holidaymakers alike have been eagerly awaiting the inshore mackerel run. A push of blue water very early in the season saw a few spotted mackerel caught off Grassy Head, but subsequent cooler, green water shut the bite down. Now however the water is blue and clean – just what spotted mackerel seem to like. February, March and April are the gun three months, so enjoy the run and keen an eye on your bag limits.
The Macleay River has finally started to come good. Local anglers had been really struggling for quite a while, with bream, whiting and flathead being very patchy indeed. But over the part few weeks all three species have fired up, with good catches of bream in the mid section (Jerseyville up to Smithtown) of the river, flathead in the lower reaches (below Jersey bridge) and whiting on the nipper beds. Both lures and bait have been working well. The most popular lures have been the blade or vibe style of lures, with the Stiffy Devilfish Vibe proving a real winner. They come in 5g and 8g models and are ideal for bombing the tidal walls and flats.
Here on the North Coast there’s been a real surge of interest in lure fishing for whiting. Pioneering work done by guys like Kevin Gleed and Kai Busch has inspired many keen lure anglers to target these flighty sports fish with surface plugs. The star performers for others and myself have been the both the Stiffy Popper and the new Stiffy Top Dog, a walk the dog style of lure that has been braining the summer whiting.
As mentioned flathead have shown up in force with plenty of smaller fish around the weed beds and drop-offs up around Stuarts Point and Carrington Channel, and some real thumpers holding station along the deep rock walls closer to the river mouth. Soft plastic jigs and deep diving minnows are the lures of choice, with 150mm Squidgie Flick Baits and Halco RMG Scorpions being two firm favourites. The run-in tide has seen a little more action lately, though the run-out tide is a proven winner for spinning the weed edges and rocky drop-offs.
Bass anglers have again found good numbers of quality fish up above Kempsey. Some recent rain put a little colour in the water, which has helped fire up the local bass. Stiffy poppers have been working well, as have the vibes in the deeper, rocky pools. Spinner baits are always worth taking, and so too are soft plastic worms and grubs.Reads: 1983