Late Spring is a pretty good time to be fishing around here. Usually the water is warming nicely and there’s a good mix of cool-water species and a few tropical visitors thrown in.
First of the tropical arrivals is usually mahi mahi, with fish already being caught out on the FAD in 60 fathoms.
Much closer to shore, big, cranky kingfish are also coming to life with Fish Rock and Black Rock well worth a shot for the next month or two.
The water is currently hovering around 20° to 21°, which means all the cool-water species are still feeling at home and the northern arrivals aren’t suffering from frostbite.
It took a while but it seems the boom in soft plastic fishing for snapper has finally taken off at South West Rocks.
A few more secretive anglers have been enjoying the inshore action for the past three years or so but word is now out and there’s a steady stream of locals heading to the northern reefs.
This season’s run of snapper is pretty tame compared with years gone by but those heading up there are scoring a few nice fish for their effort.
But now the water is warming again, keen lure fishos will have to fish a tad deeper and wider to find a few quality reds.
With luck, the northern reefs now producing some quality snapper will be home to schools of spotted mackerel in the next few months. I’m probably getting way ahead of myself, but gee I like chasing these highly mobile inshore mackerel.
And with even more luck we’ll see a long-awaited return of Spanish mackerel. It’s been very lean pickings here for barred mackerel for a few seasons so fingers crossed this is the year they make a much-welcomed return.
Also due to arrive in the next six to eight weeks are black marlin.
Again, it’s been Struggleville here for these terrific inshore game fish with the past four years basically a write-off.
It sounds like a few marlin are poking around off Central Queensland so with the right current and a good supply of inshore bait, SWR could return to its glory days when leaping marlin were a common sight just off Trial Bay Jail.
As I touched on earlier, kingfish are a real late Spring special around these parts. Every year good numbers of sizeable kings inundate Fish rock and Black Rock, causing havoc to the resident bait supplies.
Anglers who enjoy targeting them with surface lures can expect some horrifying encounters during early-morning spin sessions.
I have a real love-hate thing going for kingfish. They are one of my favourite species to chase: They look terrific, taste good on the plate and are incredible fun on surface lures.
Kings on poppers is pretty close to fishing nirvana but at this time of year they usually come in two sizes – big and bigger!
I’m not sure of the exact number you have to blow off before you begin to hate them, but I’m pretty sure I reached the magical figure quite a few years ago. Kings are certainly fun on lures but they’re expensive, frustrating and sometimes downright humiliating.
A less expensive and just as effective way to target big kings is live-baiting. Catch a good supply of slimy mackerel and yellowtail scad and head down to either rock at dawn.
If you want really big fish, pick up a few tailor on the way. Don’t fish any lighter than 24kg game tackle and start off with 8kg drag settings and work your way up.
It can be very brutal, quite physical and tough on a dodgy back but if you want any hope of landing a big kingfish, heavy gear and heavy-handed tactics are pretty well essential.
In the Macleay River the warmer water has inspired a few flathead to come out and play. Most shallow, weedy zones in the river are home to fish to 2kg with some bigger fish hugging the deep tidal rock walls.
Lures and baits have been producing fish, with the standout lures being the Squidgy Slick Rigs and Flick Baits. Bait fishos are going well with live herring cast or drifted along the same zones.
Jewfish have been pretty quiet, though a small fresh a while back fired up some quality fish near the river mouth.
For a week or so after the rains, jewfish were being caught most days on a range of big minnow lures and live baits. But, once the water cleared, things went back to normal – which is very bloody quiet.
Bream numbers have hit an all-time low with just the odd fish caught in the lower reaches and barely any up towards Smithtown.
While it’s not the best time of year to chase bream, there are usually more fish around than there are currently.
The early Winter run was pretty ordinary (thanks largely to the huge hauls taken by the beach netters) so we can’t expect miracles when the fish never got a chance to spawn.
The bass are biting well in the freshwater sections, with all the good pools from Belgrave Falls to well beyond Georges Junction producing fish at this time of year.
There’s an awful lot of water to explore and some real quality fish to be found. Some of the bass caught have been rippers going well over 50 cm, falling to a range of surface lures and plugs.
The small metal and poly blade-style vibes are proving star performers also, though a little care has to be taken when fishing the timbered country. Trebles and trees are a bad combination…Reads: 2017