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Reasons to be cheerful
  |  First Published: August 2009



The fishing gods have finally started to smile on anglers on the Mid North Coast. We’ve had a decent run without rain (though that comment may have just doomed us all!) and a few fish firing up offshore and in the estuary systems.

Whilst everything’s not going crazy, compared with the past five months things have certainly improved markedly.

With the water clearing daily, the ocean has finally gone from brown to pea-soup green. While perhaps not the most inviting colour, it’s a vast improvement from the cold, lifeless chocolate soup we’ve endured for nearly six months.

With more normal looking water came the fish – or perhaps more accurately, the fish that have hung around have decided to feed again.

I ventured down to Fish Rock the other week (the first time in six months) and fully expected to catch just a few undersized kings.

Well, a procession of kings up to 9kg lined up to belt my Halco poppers, reminding me just how much fun kings are on surface plugs and how bloody powerful the buggers are!

So there seem to be some nice kings calling Fish Rock and Black Rock home and as the water gets colder, the kings are likely to get bigger.

Spring is prime time for serious kings in these parts so expect both size and numbers to improve as the months slip by.

Those heading out wide have found some good bar cod and some serious kings fishing in the 90-fathom zones.

Those keen on deep jigging could do worse things than bombing the reef systems from 60 to 100 fathoms. A good sounder and a selection of sizable knife jigs in the 200g to 600g class should see you find a few co-operative fish.

Reports of quality snapper from both recreational and charter anglers suggest the reefs north of the river bar are well worth a shot.

This is prime snapper time and while the brown water slowed the run to a dismal crawl, now it’s clean again. Heading up off Grassy Head to Scotts Head is well worth the effort, especially if you’re prepared to anchor on a good pinnacle and feed out a little berley.

Along the ocean rocks, a few tailor and trevally have kept the lure casters occupied although both species have been a little patchy.

This certainly hasn’t been the best year for choppers. No doubt the endless brown water spewing from the Macleay has kept the tailor away, but with a bit of luck we may get a late flurry of these fun inshore sport fish.

RIVER CLEARS

After running brown for six months, the Macleay River has finally cleaned up and the fish are feeding freely again.

For keen lure fishers like me, the past half-year has been very cruel indeed. A few nice jewfish on the very end of the breakwall eased the pain a little, but the lack of bream, bass, flathead and jewfish action has been horrible.

But I can finally say the tables have turned nicely, with all three species keen to belt lures and bait again.

The first to fire were the jewfish. And while only small compared with the usual run, the sheer number of 1kg to 3kg fish has been amazing.

In my most recent session I think we landed something like 20, missing around the same number again.

Light tackle and a catch-and-release ethic have made the recent run of fish something very special indeed. Reports of a few bigger fish caught have filtered through, though I’ve yet to score anything other than the ample feisty schoolies.

Bream numbers between floods was impressive, mainly for those soaking baits right at the river mouth.

But the sheer numbers of fish that slipped into the system gives promise of a good spinning season ahead. Late Winter and early Spring are not usually the greatest months for bream fishing but with so many fish inundating the river between floods, I’d say there should be some great action right through til Summer.

Flathead are traditionally more of a Summer species but this Winter they’ve seemed happy to feed. Lures and baits are working well, with good numbers of fish up to 1.5kg hugging the vast network of retaining walls below Jerseyville.

The colder it gets, the further they seem to head up-river, so start looking above Jersey over the next few months.

The newly imposed ban on keeping bass during the spawning season has proved a real winner for the Macleay.

Usually at this time of year I see large groups of anglers, buckets at their sides, lining the known bridges jigging for ‘perch’.

This season I’m yet to see a sole angler looking for an easy feed. This is bad news for some, but it’s great news for the local population of spawning Macleay bass.

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