Focus on the rocks
  |  First Published: June 2008

It seems like every other month I am espousing the virtue of a good downpour and the positive effect it has on the ocean rock fringe. Well guess what? The rock fishing along the mid north coast should be the best ever following the last lot of rain we had.

Record falls over a record period made the rivers and lake impossible to fish for weeks. The rain and flooding has different effects on different species. The amount of rain we had will encourage the bream off the coast to breed while the same floodwaters carry the bass to the brackish water to do the same. The flathead and whiting shut down for a while and the crabs tend to bury themselves in the mud.

This month’s focus should be on the ocean rocks. The reports I’ve been getting already are consistent with my earlier prediction that it will be another big year for the rock blackfish or pigs. Anglers have been knocking off some fish in the 3kg class along with a heap of bream up to the 42cm fork length.

The preferred bait has to be cooked prawns or fresh bread but if you are a traditionalist you may want to collect some cunji or cabbage weed. Just remember not to over harvest any one area; instead spread your collecting over a large area so you don’t have as big an impact on one area of growth.

Every headland where you find some white water and wash will hold pigs. Even the broken rocks along the beaches like Back Beach at Blackhead are worth a flick. Target the deep hole that is often scoured out by the waves. The build up to a high tide is best along the beach area as the fish will move in from deeper water as the depth increases and the surge that stirs the sand up decreases.

There is no one spot better than another for rock fishing. Often we shotgun the area and fish a spot for an hour then without success we move headlands until we find fish willing to eat. This is particularly true when we chase blackfish, which should also be in the mix of pigs and bream along the rocks this month. Looking for areas that have had the weed growth grazed down is a fair indication that the big schools of blackfish are close by.

Believe it or not the best time to fish for the blackfish is at night on a rising tide. The pigs are good to target at night too so don’t believe they are only a daylight species. They are opportunistic feeders and will feed whenever they get the chance. The best bait for the winter luderick has to be the yabbies you pump from the estuary sand flats. Sometimes you can pick them up on cooked prawns but they have a liking for the yabbies either live or metho preserved.

If we don’t get any more rain, the lower estuary should be worth fishing during the low light and if the water isn’t too cold there may be a few flathead drifting around the channels. The lower leases in and around the Paddock will have bream in them. There is always an overlap of spawning and spent fish in this area so catching them is up to you. When you catch a legal bream check out whether it has yellow faint dots over its flanks. This often indicates a spent fish.

Offshore there has been some nice snapper being taken around Latitude Rock on soft plastics and bonito, and a few trag have been showing up in the offshore bags. Scott Adams scored a 5.8kg snapper on a slimy at 5 Mile Reef off Blackhead recently and was stoked. Hopefully the rain has eased for a while, as for La Niña, she can vamoose.

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