Patchy but hopeful
  |  First Published: March 2010

This has been one of the most frustrating years for blue water fish off South West Rocks.

Everything has looked set to explode but the fickle currents that bring all the exciting game fish have been teasing us for months.

Just as the water looks set to push in, something happens. Either a fresh, a big swell or howling north-east winds bash the coast, pushing and bending the belt of current and giving us rubbish water again.

I certainly hope the current is pushing in well by the time you read this because we're certainly running out of time. I don’t want to be skunked for five years running.

On a more positive note, when we've had patches of warm water some great fish have turned up.

In the past month a solid number of Spanish mackerel hit the reefs off Grassy and Scotts Head.

There were some real crackers too, with the biggest reported going 30kg. Most, however, are 10kg to 15kg and taking large live slimy mackerel.

Make sure you beef up the wire, though – no 30lb spotty wire for these guys, go straight for 80lb-plus.

Most people around here use a three 8/0 hooks on 90lb to 120lb multi-strand wire – these fish are too rare to lose due to bite-offs!

There's been very little to report on the spotted mackerel front, but many still hold hope of a very late run.

There have been a few nice cobia mixed in with the Spanish mackerel, with fish from 8kg to 15kg taking the livies on wire.

If all goes well and luck is on your side, you may well pin a few Spanish and a cobia or two as well. If you do, head straight to the newsagent a buy a few lottery tickets!


It's that time of year when the local beaches and headlands really come to life. Tailor and bream are the main players and so far both species are looking good.

There have been a few good schools of tailor on Smoky Beach and some decent bream underneath them. Hopefully this is just a sign of things to come and the beaches and headlands really fire this Autumn.

Back in the Macleay River, things have been far more consistent with flathead, whiting school mulloway and bass all happily feeding.

Bream have been virtually non-existent, although you can usually spin up a few around the oyster leases towards Stuarts Point and up Clybucca Creek. Just don't expect numbers of them.

The flathead have been fishing quite well, with the shallow rock walls and the weed beds around Stuarts Point well worth a throw for tasty fish of a kilo to 1.5kg.

The bigger fish, which usually hug the deep rock walls, have been very slow this year. Having said that, if you put in the time soaking live baits or lures along the rocks you may find one of these oversized flatties.

Whiting have been going great with some serious fish coming in. Some have been mistaken for school jew, with one fellow telling me of one fish going just under a kilo.

Although most are coming from the deep water between Jerseyville and Benalong on live worms and nippers, those spinning the flats haven't missed out. Whilst probably not as full-on as last year, the flats popping has been well worth the effort.


The run of school mulloway continues in earnest. This year has been exceptional for baby jewies and gives me some faith there will be some better fish in years to come.

Whilst most are only around 40cm or so, they're certainly good fun on light spinning gear and have saved me from some failed bream jigging sessions.

Despite their diminutive size these little jewies are great fun to catch and with their exceptional fast growth rate things are looking good for future jewfish action in the Macleay.

Bass anglers have had reason to smile with bass biting freely from Smithtown to Georges Junction – that's about 100km of river.

The Macleay has always been a good system for bass and this year it has really produced. Pretty well everywhere from the brackish water right up into the headwaters is fishing well.

Thankfully, since most anglers carefully release these terrific native sport fish, the future for the Macleay as a renowned bass river is looking very sound indeed.

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