So many distractions
  |  First Published: February 2010

I ran into a mate on the water the other week and he queried me about what fishing for bass and mangrove jacks I’d been doing lately. Suddenly it dawned on me how slack I’d been when it came to chasing these iconic Mid North Coast Summer residents this season.

The call of hard-pulling pigs on the stones and the promise of great mackerel fishing temporarily blinded me to the estuary and freshwater fishing that has been available.

I soon got back into the swing of it, though, spending plenty of time up the top of Bonville Creek and the Kalang River chasing jacks.

I consider myself to be a pretty dedicated lure tosser when it comes to these fish but this year it’s been pretty tough.

I haven’t had a single jack succumb to any lures I’ve thrown this season and from what I’ve heard, the bulk of the fish have taken live baits.

I guess I can’t complain because they normally shy off lures this late, anyway, so I shouldn’t have been so lazy and got into them earlier.

If set yourself up next to any of the larger snags in the upper tidal reaches of any of the local creeks and float a live bait around, you’re still in with a chance at some of these red devils.

And if the jacks aren’t willing, the trevally should still be hanging around.

Bass have been plentiful, although there isn’t much water now that hasn’t had someone recently run a lure through it.

However, the bass don’t seem to mind and are still happy to play the game.

They have been spread right through the systems this year, with plenty of fish in the brackish zones around Fernmount and Marx Hill stretches in the Bellinger River and around the top end of South Arm Road on the Kalang. This makes for a great fishing session with bream and bass all mixed in together.


The water offshore is looking great lately, with warm, blue water coming in over the continental shelf.

The billfish action hasn’t exploded by any means but there have been some great fish taken this year and that’s sure to continue this month.

Black marlin, sailfish and plenty of mahi mahi are hanging around in this good water, along with plenty of bait.

Schools of striped tuna have been cruising and if you like the prospect of scoring a bigger billfish, it would be worth bridling one up and dropping it straight back in.

We recently pulled a few stripies out of a school hanging at about 35-40 fathoms in roughly 90 fathoms of water and they definitely had something keeping them tight. Dropping a rigged bait back down towards the school would have been a great option – if we had had some gear with us to bridle one up... Oh well, plenty of bait in the freezer now.

The mackerel are around but have been hard to find at times.

I’ve heard that the fish up north have been a bit sporadic with great fishing one day and nothing the next. Locally, it has been great one day and then nothing for a week!

Those days that have produced fish though have been good, with a mixture of spotties and Spaniards and by the time you read this, captures of quality fish should have become a lot more regular.

I’m keen to see what the warm water is going to do this month. At this point it still seems to be hanging out wide but it might creep in closer this month so I’ll be keeping a close eye on it.

If it does, it will be perfect for the smaller boats to access mackerel in close but for now, even though there are fish to be had on the inshore grounds, the better water is out wide.

Spinning the rocks has been producing good tailor over the past few weeks, with models up to 4kg being taken – not bad by-catch for a morning of spinning bonnies!

Mackerel are still on the cards for my fishing this month but I guess if I want one last chance at a jack I will have to get out the live-baiting gear and see if I can entice any.

I will also chase a few more bass before it starts to cool off and the game fishing bug has bitten me hard this year, so I will definitely be having a few more shots at the run of billfish that should still be around.

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