A matter of time
  |  First Published: January 2010

Locals and visitors were kept pretty happy over the holidays with a few fish poking around and this month there are no excuses –get out and among ’em.

The stage looks set off Trail Bay Jail with royal blue water and shoals of slimy mackerel and plenty of small tuna whizzing around – but where are the predators?

As yet (although things may have changed since I filed this report) very little has hit these recognised game fishing grounds. But don't be too disheartened; cobia and marlin are nearly guaranteed, it's just a matter of when...

While waiting for the predators to show up, many anglers have been enjoying one of the better runs of kingfish for some time.

As usual, the place to head has been Fish Rock, where there have been good numbers of fish from 3kg to 10kg.

There are some bigger fish around-and plenty of much smaller ones too – it's really a matter of sifting through the rats to find the better class of fish.

Both lures and bait have been working equally well, with large knife jigs and surface poppers the standouts for the lure crew. Bait anglers using live yellowtail or pike are scoring well.

Heading south-west from Fish Rock, you'll find Black Rock. This lone patch of stone barely 500m off Smoky Beach is also a real fish magnet.

While I haven't spoke to anyone who's been there lately, there usually are some nice kings and snapper around the place.

Black Rock is also a good spot for Spanish mackerel and cobia, so if you hear of a few poking around, it may well be worth sending out a live slimy mackerel or pike on a short length of wire.

Those heading out wider and fishing the FAD in 60 fathoms say it's crawling with mahi mahi, though most have been quite small.

Some bigger baits or lures fished a tad wider will usually yield a better class of fish.

Bottom fishing in the same area – difficult if the current is running – can produce anything from kingfish to bar cod.

These deeper reefs are great for scoring a mixed bag of tasty reef fish, with snapper and pearl perch the firm favourites of the deep-water bombers.


Back in the Macleay River, things have really come to life with plenty of feisty bream, whiting and flathead in good numbers to keep anglers happy.

It seems most of the fish are slightly up-river of the mouth and anywhere above Jerseyville bridge is a good starting point.

Heading up the North Arm towards Stuarts Point isn't a bad move, either, with good numbers of fish cruising the flats.

The Winter run of bream was pretty lousy so to be scoring good numbers of fish now is a real surprise.

While there's haven’t been too many big fish among them, the sheer numbers and aggressive nature off the fish present is making an up-river bream spinning session well worth the effort.

Those soaking baits can expect to find a few fish also, with prawns and beach worms working very well lately.

Whiting anglers should be out and about drifting the flats looking for these powerful and tasty little fish. Again, beach worms are proving deadly, as are live nippers.

For the lure crew, small translucent poppers and stickbaits seem the most reliable, with long, raking casts over the sand flats and aggressive, popping retrieves drawing the most strikes.

Those keen on a few flathead could do a lot worse than drift the same areas with whitebait or prawns. Drifting will let you cover plenty of water, giving you the best chance at finding a few fish.

As for lures, it's pretty hard to beat soft plastics, with green or pink shads and stickbaits around 4” long proving very effective.

School mulloway are still around in big numbers with plenty still up around the Jerseyville area and beyond.

Most are very small fish but their sheer numbers is quite heart-warming. Let’s hope the little tackers get a decent shot to grow and spawn before the greedy netters wipe them out.

Bass anglers have enjoying themselves on with fish happily biting well up into the headwaters.

This region has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to good bass water. Virtually every fresh or brackish waterway houses a few of these great native sport fish.

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