About the only thing certain in fishing is that every day is different.
In recent weeks rock, beach and estuary anglers have been enjoying a great run of sizeable mulloway, bream and blackfish, are certainly a welcome relief after the dismal Autumn run of fish.
The rocks and beaches have really sprung to life with quality tailor being caught most days.
Those flicking small cut baits of pilchards and bonito into the washes have been rewarded with some very nice sea-run bream.
For those keen to lock horns with a decent jewie, you could do a lot worse than cast out the head of one of those previously caught tailor on a 10/0 hook. But use heavy gear and expect a good battle if you hook up.
So it's happy days for those keen on shore-based angling on the Mid North Coast.
Those fishing the mighty Macleay River have found new excitement with good numbers of blackfish, bream and mulloway in the lower reaches.
The lower rock walls have come alive with fish and with older men (and a few women) chasing the great run of solid blackfish.
I have no idea where these folks hide during the warmer months but as soon as the blackfish show up, so does the grey army out to catch them.
Some big bream have entered the lower Macleay, too, and those flicking out cut baits, small blade lures and soft plastics have been scoring quite a few nice fish.
Dawn, dusk and into the night have been the most productive periods but it’s also worth trying around the tide changes to avoid the fast flowing water.
The Macleay River is known for its exceptional mulloway fishing but over the past three years things have fallen into a terrible heap.
Twenty years ago the average fish was around 15kg to 18kg. Ten years ago, it was 9kg to 13kg. And in the past three years, the average as around 3kg.
It's a frightening drop in such a short period and further proof – as I&I Fisheries has figured out – that commercial fishing for mulloway is unsustainable.
But the good news is, over the past thee weeks good numbers of bigger fish have entered the Macleay. Most are 12kg to 20kg and have been providing plenty of thrills for those lucky enough to hook one.
Those heading offshore have been struggling a little but there have been pretty good numbers of small to medium kingfish at Fish Rock and Black Rock, plus a consistent trickle of snapper moving to the inshore reefs.
Many boaties have resorted to chasing tailor, trolling metal lures around the southern headlands. So it’s cold starts and long days if you want good numbers of offshore fish at present.
Results around here have really taken off along the ocean rocks, beaches and in the estuary lately. Why?
It's quite simple, really. The beach haulers have thinned to a level where some fish can actually continue up the coast on their annual spawning runs.
So finally, after the eight-week total onslaught, most of the interstate netters have left and our pretty beaches are again free from dirty old tents, rusting 4WDs and rubbish.
And, more importantly for local anglers and small businesses alike, the lucky tail end run of spawning fish are now able to sneak into the rivers and bays, ensuring (only just) that some fish will get a chance to spawn and most folks will be able to catch a feed again.
It's not rocket science. If you have netters with jet boats in every protected corner belting spawn-run bream, mullet, blackfish and mulloway day and night for two months or more, you have to expect to be left with just the scraps that didn't wind up on the back of a rusty 4WD.
For estuary, rock and beach anglers, beach hauling will govern your seasonal catches.
|Fish numbers for local and travelling anglers are governed by weather patterns.||Too many periods of prolonged calm, stable weather (which we usually get during Autumn) and the nets will be working around the clock, ensuring virtually no fish will make it into the bays and river systems to spawn.|
|It's funny really, there's a massive push from vote-grabbing politicians trying to lock up huge sections off our coast to protect fish and create safe spawning areas for ‘valuable fish stocks’. Due to a total lack of||information and past results and lock-ups, many anglers and small businesses are naturally opposed to the idea.|
These zones are created to help protect fish stocks yet in the Solitary Islands Marine Park, beach hauling is permitted! This insanity shows just how powerful the professional lobby is and how disorganised and forgotten recreational anglers are.
Anglers in South Australia say the ban on beach hauling many years ago has improved the inshore fishing markedly. Now breeding fish are able to spawn, with the beaches, headlands and weedy bays becoming safe havens for spawning fish.
A ban on fishing for SA snapper in October and November (their main spawning months) has ensured 8kg to 10kg reds are still very common.
So if you really want to protect and see fish stocks build, forget the stupid marine park zones and simply ban or restrict beach hauling and start putting short closed seasons on spawning runs for offshore species. It's really that simple. – PB