River, offshore warming up
  |  First Published: October 2008

With Spring in the air, most anglers up this way turn their thoughts to spinning for flathead, targeting bass in the freshwater and hunting big kingfish and snapper offshore.

Those thinking further along the calendar have their fingers crossed for a good run of cobia, marlin and spotted mackerel in another month or so.

Offshore at the moment the kingfish are just kicking into gear, with some solid fish at Fish Rock and Black Rock.

While it’s still only early days for these lure-stealing varmints, the signs are all good for a late Spring run of hoodlums.

Most the fish being caught lately are from 3kg to 6k with a few bust-offs denoting the presence of some bigger fish.

In a month or so we can expect big trouble at both locations with plenty of gear under strain trying to land a few big ones.

Snapper usually have one good flurry before slowly fading away during the warmer months.

Many anglers associate snapper with the footy season and, come the end of September, it’s grand final time and usually the last strong run of quality fish on the inshore reefs.

Leatherjackets are still in good numbers, with the reefs just off the Jail being reliable for a feed of these tasty buggers. A long-shank hook and a short length of wire is called for when targeting these tasty fish.

Use tough flesh baits and try not to touch your line anywhere above the hook – it’s amazing how often they will bit you off where you have touched the line and left the faintest aroma of food.

Tailor are still in good numbers along the ocean rocks with those braving the wind and swell getting a nice feed of fish.

Trolling metal lures and bibbed minnows close to the stones is proving very effective, as is casting back from a drifting boat.

I prefer the long-range casting approach, putting plenty of distance between me and the rocks.

It was a lousy, cold Winter and the number of times you could safely target tailor from a drifting boat could be counted on one hand. Spring is starting off a little more civil and let’s hope things continue that way.


In the Macleay River, the flathead have awoken from their Winter snooze and those flicking rubber lures or drifting with whitebait or live herring are scoring some nice fish.

There haven’t been any really big fish caught that I’ve heard of, though I suspect there will be some honkers caught very soon.

Let’s hope those targeting these bigger fish have the forethought to release them to fight another day. The smaller fish taste much better, anyway.

Bream have been pretty slack this year. Sure, there have been a few fish around but it’s a hard slog to put a good haul together.

I don’t think I caught over 15 in a session during Winter and I hope Spring will see a little more activity.

Another species playing hard to find is the jewfish.

I love chasing these sliver buggers but over the past few months it has been very difficult to consistently catch them.

While they’re not really a species you catch on a daily basis, they are proving even more elusive than normal. Optimists are hoping this is purely a bad seasonal run and things will get better as the weather warms again.

Bass have been very reliable up in the brackish water. This is the best season we have had for nearly five years and those flicking small bladed lures or jigging soft plastics have found good numbers of fish below Kempsey.

But now as the weather and water begin to warm, it’s time to start looking a little further up-river.

This month we should see good numbers of fish between the Kempsey highway bridge and Belgrave Falls.


Bream didn’t hit great heights over Winter but they might show further upstream as the water warms.

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