Long wait for good water
  |  First Published: February 2010

It's been a painfully slow start to the game fishing season, with a cruel back eddy out wide pushing discoloured, cool water on the coast for much of the year so far, but it looks like it’s all about to change.

It seems the current is fair belting south-waaaay out to sea and is full of all sorts of exciting critters. But for most trailer boat anglers, the good water has been simply out of reach.

I headed out to 60 fathoms the other day and was gutted to watch the temperature gauge fall from 26° on the Jail Grounds down to 22.5° at the FAD.

As many a local and visiting angler can attest, bath-warm water doesn't always mean fish.

The lovely, clean warm water on the Jail Grounds had produced only a few marlin and some smallish cobia. Certainly nothing to sneeze at, but just a tiny trickle compared with the flood out wide.

This back eddy was from Port Macquarie to Coffs and while it lasts we can expect only dribs and drabs out to sea but the latest news is it looks set to break up.

The blue water can, and will, arrive any day. It's all a matter of keeping an eye on the water and checking places like Fish Rock to see if the current is running south. When it does, I'm sure we'll enjoy a late but fun run of fish.


For many, the Macleay River has been the saviour. There's been a steady run of bream, whiting, flathead and jewfish, with well-timed outings usually producing the goods.

Those keen on the flatties have been getting good results up in the feeder arms, with Stuarts Point and the lower reaches of Clybucca Creek well worth a throw.

In the main river, try up towards Jerseyville and fish some of the shallower rock walls and mud flats. These shallow zones are holding the largest concentrations of bait, with plenty of hardiheads and whitebait keeping the flathead happy.

These same shallow areas have been good for whiting, with some top quality fish falling to live nippers and beach worms on the high tides.

Those working surface plugs have struggled a bit in the dirty water but as it clears, popper results should improve markedly.

Bream have been in good numbers above Jerseyville bridge and there's been some size about them, too.

It's quite normal to find numbers of bream making their way slowly up-river during the warmer months, but this run has seen plenty of quality fish well above 500g. Summer usually means small fish up-river, but this season there are plenty of bigger fish upstream.


The run of school mulloway continues in earnest. I haven't seen such a good run of baby jewies since moving here in the early 1990s.

Almost every deep rock wall from the river mouth to Benalong is holding school jew. On the right day it's common to catch 20 or so on lures.

Admittedly, most are tiny, pushing 400g, but there are some 2kg-plus fish mixed in.

The sheer numbers alone is very encouraging for the future – as long as the greedy netters don't wipe them out.

Bigger mulloway are proving more elusive but by putting in hours after dark with live baits is sure to tempt the odd fish.

For bait, it's pretty hard to beat live pike although catching the buggers is nearly as hard as catching the jewfish! Second in line are mullet, followed by yellowtail then herring.

All will produce, with the key simply being in the right place at the right time. The rest usually falls into place.

Bass anglers are still smiling about the great run of fish. Admittedly, up here the Spring action is usually the most exciting but this Summer has been very steady indeed.

The toughest part has been finding a nice stable patch of weather – between floods – to chase them.

But from all accounts there are plenty of quality fish being caught when conditions allow. With the water very warm from Kempsey to just below Armidale, fish should be happily feeding the entire length of the Macleay River.

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