Fishing After the Floods
  |  First Published: June 2009

Well, what can I say about the last few months of weather? Admittedly we’ve had a few amazingly good days, sunny, warm and very inviting, but the vast majority since February have been shockers. And May’s bombardment was just another example how crazy the east coast weather has been.

Now, with the water subsiding and most of the cleanup done, residents on the Mid North Coast can start thinking about fishing again. But the clean water prior to the flood was soon replaced with millions of litres of brown stuff. She’s starting to clear now and from all accounts there’s a few fish turning up again.


First to fire up was the jewfish on the break wall. The previous flood fired up some rippers to 30kg, and this flood has got some big fish keen also. Once the weed swept through there was a fairly steady run of quality fish taken on lures.

Some good tailor have turned up on the rocks and beaches, with a few around 5kg caught. Most are your typical 1kg class of fish with North Gap, Smoky Beach and Little Bay proving the most reliable. Pilchards and garfish on ganged hooks, as well a mix of metal sliced and spoons have all taken fish. And as usual morning and late afternoon are the prime times to be looking for them.

Nice bream are also making their way up the coast, with the usual hunting grounds of Green Island, North Gap and the rocks at the northern end of Smoky Beach turning up some quality fish around dawn and dusk. Most are using pilchard and flesh baits cast lightly weighted into the washes.


A few cobia turned up off the Gaol, with a mix of fish from 4-20kg hugging the reefs holding the best concentrations of baitfish. If you’re after a few cobia it certainly pays to scout around the reef systems looking for baitfish. Cobia aren’t silly and will usually hang around the largest schools. Live yellowtail or slimy mackerel seem the most reliable baits and are usually fairly easy to catch with a standard bait jig dropped into the shows of fish on the sounder.

Kingfish again have been quite active at Fish Rock, though you will have to sift through the rats for some bigger fish. Most guys head to The Rock with a live bait tank full of yellow tail and slimy mackerel, both proven baits for resident kings, but more and more locals and visiting anglers are seeing the virtues of jigging with large slices and knife style jigs.

She’s certainly nothing new, people have been jigging kings for decades, but today’s jigs, used in conjunction with heavy outfits loaded with powerful GSP line is proving very effective indeed. But like I said, you still have to sift through the under-sized fish. Until the water cools significantly, you can’t expect too many big kings around these parts.

Those heading north out looking for snapper have been very disappointed. While the warmer months aren’t the best for reds, we still normally find a few nice fish. So far this Autumn and Early winter period has been a shocker.


Heading further up-river it seems the bass have started to move down towards the brackish zone a tad early. Most probably got swept down with the last flood and couldn’t be bothered heading back up. For keen bass anglers, this makes the waters between Kempsey and Smithtown very interesting places to fish during the cooler months.

With a bit of luck we have finally seen the end of the serious rain for this year. Basically the Macleay has been running brown since February, and with each flood comes the inevitable fish kills from those archaic, toxic-water-making floodgates.

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