Brown water but good fish
  |  First Published: July 2009

Just when you think the rains have gone and the flooded river will get a chance to clear, back they come again, dumping even more water.

It’s been the wettest, most frustrating, start to any year I can remember, with teasing short breaks between floods before the sky closes in again.

A few months of dry, sunny conditions would perfect right now but I’d say we’d have to head up to the Northern Territory for that.

While the weather has been a write-off since February, there’s been some surprisingly good fishing.

For months it’s been a real case of getting out when you can and for those picking the very short windows, some good results have followed.

The most recent flurry of action between floods was the run of cobia just off Trial Bay Jail, where fish from 8kg to 30kg were in great numbers for days on end.

While it was very difficult to find bait, those lucky enough to snare a few yellowtail or slimy mackerel were guaranteed results. Others used what ever they could grab from the freezer.

It was a pretty hectic run, with most anglers scoring some nice fish.

But, as usual, greed reared its ugly head with reports of some anglers keeping between seven and 12 fish per outing. With an average size of around 13kg, that’s a lot of fish dinners.

Obviously these fools are selling them, not only ripping off the local pros who have spent money to obtain licenses legally, but decimating large numbers of breeding fish.

And, true to form, those doing most of the killing are invariably the first to complain when there’s no fish around.

It’s sad, really, and a permanent DPI Fisheries officer stationed at The Rocks would go a long way towards slowing the carnage. We need something for our hard-earned fishing licence money!

With reports of cobia still to the south of us, it looks like another run of fish could sweep through soon, so if you’re out around the Jail Grounds and have a few live baits, it may well be worth sending one down and see what happens.


Kingfish have fired up when ever the current has. The old saying ‘no run, no fun’ is still very accurate, especially when we’re talking about kingfish at Fish Rock.

If you turn up at Fish Rock and there’s no current line streaming down towards Hat Head, you can expect lean pickings. Turn up and it’s boiling away nicely, the odds are you’ll be in for some action.

If heading to The Rock, take a good mix of baits and lures. I wouldn’t head down there without a few yakkas or slimies in the livewell and a handful of knife jigs and sizable poppers.

Between spinning and sending down live baits, you should stir up a few kings. Just what size will depend on the day, but lately most have been 2kg to 6kg, with a few 10kg fish mixed in. Remember, as the water gets colder, the kings get bigger.

Tailor, bream and blackfish have turned up in good numbers off the local headlands, largely thanks to the endless big swells slowing the beach haulers to a crawl.

This great run of fish should move around a fair bit, with many of the bream and blackfish heading into the Macleay River.


Between floods, the lower reaches of the Macleay showed great promise with large numbers of quality bream along the rock walls.

The action can be fast and furious for weeks, with many anglers casting out lightly-weighted flesh baits of bonito, tailor and mullet.

Most fishos turn up around the tidal change and slowly walk the wall, keeping level with the drifting bait. It’s a fun and productive way to snare some nice bream if you haven’t got access to a boat.

For those targeting bream from boats, you can either anchor parallel to the wall (usually about 6m to 8m out is good) and drift the baits back with the tide.

Lure fishers should drift the walls with small soft plastics or blade-style lures.

Key ingredients for both bait and lure fishing are a tidal change and low light levels. Dawn and dusk are always likely to produce the goods and when combined with a tide change, you’ve really improved your chances of scoring a good bag of bream.

With all the rain, it’s little surprise the mulloway have become active.

The breakwall has been most productive, with those who throw big lures scoring a few top-class fish. The biggest I’ve heard went 27kg, with reasonable numbers of 15kg to 20kg fish cruising around.

On the high tides, those live-baiting the walls also found some good fish.

While the rain was initially very welcomed by local farmers and keen jewfish anglers, I think it’s fair to say most would be more than happy to see a good run of dry weather.

If the water gets a chance to clear we can expect some great Winter fishing in the estuaries and offshore. Fingers crossed that we’ve seen the end of the wet stuff.

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