Hopes high for the season
  |  First Published: September 2009

Balmy, ever-lengthening days denote good things to come and even the water temp is starting to rise nicely, with patches pushing 23° on the inshore reefs, though I suspect it will drop a little before the good blue water finally arrives.

Most folks who fish around The Rocks have their fingers crossed for a good season ahead.

Spotted and Spanish mackerel have proved extremely patchy over the past few years and mahi mahi haven’t been much better. Over the past four years or so the run of macks and dollies has been terrible, to say the least.

You can add billfish to the most-wanted list, also. We haven’t had a good run of inshore marlin for around five years, so fingers crossed this is the year it all happens.

The Spring weather has fired up a few nice kings and snapper.

Both species are notoriously late starters around here and with the onset of Spring we usually see a final dash of solid reds and kings.

Fish Rock is perhaps the most reliable spot to target big kings, though it’s certainly not the easiest place to land one. I’ve been screwed over by more cranky kings there than I care to remember.

Most grab your live bait or lure and plough their way to the rugged bottom or around some unseen pinnacle.

Some give you false hope and will slowly cruise along for several minutes before deciding the angler has had enough fun.

I’m hoping this season we’ll see kings out a little wider, belting the sauries. When they’re hunting in packs 400m to 800m from the rock you have a real good chance of landing a serious fish.

Big snapper usually move into the shallow country, spawn and slowly edge their way further out to sea again.

Hit the shallow spots early and start fishing slightly deeper country as the day wears on and you should find some nice fish.

A little further out to sea on the 36-fathom reefs, nice plate-size snapper have been very consistent.

The good news is that the leatherjackets have thinned nicely, so you will now get a shot at the more desirable bottom fish.

But don’t leave it too late because the closer we get to Summer, the stronger the currents usually get, making fishing the bottom at any depth very difficult indeed.


Along the ocean rocks the bream and tailor run was a real fizzer, with only dribs and drabs of both species caught.

The positives are there are good reports of bream and choppers south of us so there’s some hope, if only faint, of a very late run of fish.

Blackfish and drummer have been a lot more consistent along the ocean rocks, with headlands north and south of Gap Beach holding good numbers, plus a good sprinkling around the front of Trial Bay Jail.

On the calm days they usually don’t bite very well, but you get a good opportunity to see just where the schools of fish are holding station.

When the seas bump up a little, you can head back when they’re feeding more freely.

The local beaches have been pretty woeful this season, with only a very odd fish caught.

When I’ve been surfing lately I’ve seen very little marine life at all. Usually through Winter I’ll see schools of mullet, salmon, bream and tailor but over the past four months it’s been nothing but sterile-looking sand.

That’s pretty sad if you love your beach fishing, but it gives you good peace of mind when you’re floating on a surfboard!


The Macleay River has held a lot more promise, with a consistent run of bream and school jewfish in the lower reaches.

Flathead, too, have found the warming weather to their liking, with pretty good numbers of fish up on the shallow flats.

The deep zones are still pretty slow, so if you’re keen on catching a few lizards, start looking around the shallow flats and weed beds up towards Stuarts Point or along the edges of the main river.

The bream will be slowly making their way up-river and soon places like Benalong, Kinchela, Belmore and Clybucca will be the spots to head for.

The school jew will also start moving upstream. Usually where you find good numbers of bream you should find the jewies.

Keen bass anglers will be out in force and most will be fishing just above the brackish zone (Smithtown) to just above Kempsey.

Early in the season this large chunk of water should hold the best numbers of fish but as it warms further, start thinking about all those lovely rocky pools well above Kempsey.

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