You can tell it’s winter: chilly starts and plenty of gray, cold southerly days. However, despite the shaky start to the season the fishing has been quite good.
Those heading out to sea looking for mackerel will be disappointed, but there are a few solid cobia around. Fish up to 27kg have been caught, with Black Rock, Green Island and the 11 Fathom Reef (just off the gaol) being the best places to start looking. Live baits are the key, with little yellowtail scad (yakkas) being the front runner.
If you end up heading south you may as well call into Fish Rock. It’s certainly not the most reliable spot for cobia, but you’ll nearly always find kingfish. There’s been plenty of rat fish up to 2kg around, plus some bigger fish closer to 7kg. There always seems to be a few much bigger fish to be caught, although landing them is always a challenge.
On the deeper reefs, in 36 fathoms, a good run on plate-sized snapper and pearl perch are coming in. With the current dropping daily, bottom fishing these deeper reefs is a viable option, with quality table fish taken most outings.
Those chasing snapper are getting into some great table size fish. With good numbers of 1-2kg fish on the shallow grounds (40-60ft) and a few in a bigger class out in 80-120 feet. Most of the good snapper grounds around here are to the north, with the broken reef between Grassy and Scotts Head the place to look.
Those fishing the beaches and headlands may finally get a chance at a few fish. You have to wait for the interstate netters to leave before there’s any hope of catching a few remnant fish. It’s frustrating stuff as every year tonnes of spawning bream, blackfish, mullet and mulloway are cleaned out, and only once the greedy netters leave is there any hope of a fish. Anyway, they’ve gone north again so get out and catch a few tail enders that survived the onslaught...
The Macleay is still a little hit and miss, but there’s good numbers of school-sized jewfish, a few nice flathead and with a bit of luck, some more sea run bream.
The school jewfish have mainly been quite small, with 2kg a decent one. But they’re still great fun on light gear with bait or lures. Try between Jerseyville and the river mouth. That’s a fair chunk of ground, but the jewies have been moving around a lot, although most are in these lower reaches.
There’s been a few bigger jewfish caught, but only after dark anglers using live baits. While you certainly wouldn’t call the jewfish run consistent, there are enough fish to make the cold night tolerable – only just.
Flathead usually go a little quite during winter, with many fish heading up-river. They will still take baits and lures but tend to spread out a lot more making locating them the biggest challenge.
To narrow the options a little, try the shallow walls above Jerseyville, with any sub 4m being good places to start looking. Drift fishing with bait or lures is usually the best way to go, letting you cover plenty of water during the outing.
Bream have been frustratingly quiet. There’s been some rippers caught on bait after dark, but for those targeting them during daylight hours have found the going really tough. Hopefully this month, with the beach haulers gone, we may see a few good schools move into the river. Time will tell anyway.Reads: 1960