Good things to come
  |  First Published: October 2009

hile things have been a little tough, there’s promise of good things to come.

Anyone who’s fished around South West Rocks over the past six months can attest to the well-below-par fishing. Apart from a good run of bass and an unusual run of soapy jewfish, things have been very quiet indeed.

But as we edge closer to
ummer, things are finally starting to heat up.

The warm weather has inspired a few nice flathead to come out and play.

Although there have been very few large fish caught, there’s been a pretty good run of table fish from 1kg to 2kg. Because the water is still a little cool, most of the action has been up in the shallow zones of the Stuarts Point Arm of the Macleay River.

While the deep river water is still a little cold and lifeless at present, I’m certain that as soon as the ocean starts pouring in nice warm water, the lower reaches of the Macleay will spring to life.

f you’re after a few flatties for the table, concentrate your efforts in the shallow country.

Bream fishos have done it tough all year but my past few outings have given me confidence to think there should be enough action to make an outing worthwhile.

The key thing seems to be to head up-river and into the shallows. Again, it’s this slightly warmer water that is holding the schools of fish.

I had a few sessions spinning and fly casting around the leases, and while the action wasn’t red-hot, there were enough bream hugging the trays and wave-wash fences to keep me entertained.

The run of school mulloway is continuing.
ost are only just out of pre-school, but there have been a few big bruisers mixed in.

On my past two outings, a mate and I hooked fish between 10kg and 20kg but because we were rigged up for baby jewies, we were well and truly blown away – lesson learnt …

I assume that as the water warms, the jew will become even more active.

Around here jewfish numbers seem to swell during the warmer months, though they’re mainly smaller fish. I reckon if the average jewfish gets any smaller, we’ll all be chasing them with ultra-light bream gear!

Fingers crossed we eventually get a good run decent jewies. While it’s fun catching the babies, I really want some consistency with those thumping 10kg-plus fish the Macleay used to be famous for.

As touched on earlier, bass numbers have been good this year, with plenty heading down into the brackish country to spawn.

As they edge their way back up-river, there have been some great encounters in the lower freshwater reaches.

Time your outing to coincide with a rising barometer and stable weather and you can expect plenty of action just above Kempsey.

At this time of year the fish are really keen on surface lures, so don’t head up-river without a few topwater plugs.

Those heading out to sea have had mixed blessings. The few snapper that did move in close are now edging out to sea.

This will leave the inshore reefs pretty barren until some pelagics finally show, but there should be a few snapper to keep the punters happy.


Kingfish are usually in full swing by now and while there are some pretty good numbers around Fish Rock, you really have to pick the days when you head down there.

If you race down when the current isn’t running, you can expect pretty dismal results indeed but get it right and arrive when it’s running south at 2 knots and you’ll almost certainly find co-operative kings.

The divers tell me there are plenty of kings milling around, from 3kg pups to 20kg thumpers, but you need tidal flow or it’s pretty well hopeless.

Those chasing spanner crabs have been kept busy, with plenty coming from just off Trial Bay Jail.

If you stick to water depths around 30m, you should run into some good-sized crabs each drop. Grab a few mates (you are allowed only one trap each) and spread them around the sand and pull them up every 20 minutes or so.

There’s a bag limit of 10 crabs each, with a minimum legal carapace size of 9.3 cm.

If you have a drift around for a few flathead while you’re waiting, you’re sure to end up with a nice feed. It’s great fun without burning up oodles of petrol in the process.

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