Pelagics on the rocks
  |  First Published: February 2017

February is the beginning of the peak pelagic period for the mid north coast of NSW, and in particular, South West Rocks.

Consistent northeast winds have made the last few months a bit tough, with only a limited amount of good days and green water. The good news is that warm blue water from the north is beginning to settle in, and should remain this way until well after Easter. All we need now is a few more southerly winds in the mix to keep the water at its best. This water will hold a vast array of northern pelagic species, from marlin and tuna through to mackerel, cobia and wahoo. Early season mackerel catches have been made up predominately of the spotted variety, with the odd Spanish mackerel kicking around. This is fairly standard at this time of year, however this ratio usually evens out through February.

Mahimahi are out on the Fisheries FAD, although their size has not been that great this year, and as usual, it’s the early bird that gets the fish. The most up-to-date co-ordinates for this can be found on the NSW Fisheries website. Bigger mahimahi are generally taken on the troll while targeting marlin, so it’s well worth having a lure spread out when moving, especially if the conditions only allow a slow to steady pace.

Fish Rock and Black Rock have had kingfish around them in recent weeks, especially Fish Rock when the current has been racing through. Visitors to the area are once again reminded that bait cannot be used within 200m of Fish Rock.

Rat yellowfin tuna have started to show up on the outside edge of the rock as well. These fish make great sashimi, and you can be assured larger mackerel and wahoo are never too far away from this food source.

Kingfish have been around the headlands fairly consistently, with the odd cobia being sighted. Bonito schools have been popping up in close around sunrise. Good catches of school mulloway are on offer, as are bream and trevally from the stones. Freshly spun bonito cut into strips are the gun bait for just about every species that hangs in the headland washes.

The beaches have been a little hit-and-miss due to green water that has been present and bluebottles, which have been a bit of a nuisance. Still, this can change almost overnight, and this time of year usually produces the goods when you’re fishing from the sand. Flathead, whiting, dart, bream and mulloway are the species that are on offer for the anglers that get to it on the right day.

Mud crabs have been pretty thick throughout the salty end of the river system, and the number of blue swimmers being caught seems to be increasing by the day. Flathead have been their ever-reliable selves, and there are plenty of whiting and bream on the sand flats.

Recently, the upper Macleay was about as low as it gets. The bigger holes with water in them and less weeds are absolutely loaded with fish, and they’re smashing surface lures and lightly-weighted soft plastics. However, the water is becoming very stale and slimy. Hopefully the upper catchment for the Macleay Valley will have received a much-needed drenching by the time you read this. That would make long stretches of river accessible once again, allowing anglers to enjoy summer surface action everywhere. That’s how it should be at this time of year.

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