The rivers are where it’s at right now according to local fishing family, the Didios.
With minimal rains over winter to flush the fish down, and salinity rising, the best fishing is in the upper reaches of the river systems where fish seem to be pooling.
“The rivers have just fired up,” local fisherman Tony Didio said.
“We’re getting a lot of eel-tailed catfish which is a good indicator of healthy water systems.
“We’re getting good bream and flathead and the mangrove jacks are just starting to have a bit of a chew.
And the bass are absolute dynamite right now. Honestly, we’ve got some of the best bass fishing there is.
The cicadas have come out in force, signalling bass season, and the guys both recommend softer plastics, deep diver and surface lures, or a good old-fashioned garden worm as the best bait.
“With a worm you cannot miss them,” Jason said.
WATCH: Jason Didio reel in a whopper of a bass
Tony and Jason recommend Boat Harbour Bridge on the way to Taylor’s Arm, Deep Creek in Urunga, or generally anywhere in the waterways above Bowraville as prime bass spots.
But they want to remind those wanting to try out the Valley’s river systems to be respectful.
“Ask for consent to be on private land, where possible, but if you can’t then stick to the lower banks if on foot, and never leave any trace of rubbish,” Jason said.
The NSW DPI Fisheries Recreational Freshwater Fishing Guide clearly outlines anglers’ right to fish.
“Anglers have a legal right to fish from a boat or while walking within the bed of a river or stream even if the bed is not public land,” the guide says.
“Anglers should always request permission from landholders to cross privately owned or managed lands.
“If right of entry is granted, make sure you use formed tracks to access the water and take care not to interfere with any stock or pastoral activities.”
The DPI Fisheries have said that a new angler access strategy, including web-based access-location database is being developed for inland river systems to provide anglers with information that will assist them in accessing rivers in the future.
If you can’t get upstream, then in the lower reaches it’s best to find weed beds and structures, because that’s what holds the bait fish.
For those wanting to make use of the bountiful seas girting the Nambucca, there is good news also.
The summer fish season seems to be starting earlier than normal with all of this unseasonal warmth the Valley’s been experiencing.
“Last Wednesday, the water was 22 degrees which is just nuts for this time of year,” Tony said.
“We’ve never seen water temps like this—its unheard of.”
There are good amounts of snapper, and pearl perch in the closer reefs (20-45m off the coast).
“We’re catching the snapper on bait jigs, which is crazy,” Tony said.
And the pair say that if you can find some nice deep gutters off the shore, then you should be able to reel in a few decent-sized bream off some sandworms with the whiting picking up again from November onwards.
Meanwhile the kingfish are finally back in numbers after a 3-year hiatus.
“We weren’t getting any kingies for a while. I reckon it’s because the last lot of big floods we had 4-5 years ago silted over the reefs,” Tony said.
WATCH: Tony and Jason with a kingfish double hook-up
Tony is putting his bets on the mackerel season not being too far away.
“They shouldn’t be here ‘til February, but these past two years we’ve been getting them in December, and this year everything’s started earlier still,” Tony said.
“Our mackerel season used to last six weeks, now we’re copping it for four to five months.”
According to Jason this is going to be a great year for marlin.
“Reports from up north in Cairns is that they’re having a blinder,” Jason said.
The hot water being pushed all the way down the eastern coast are bringing some more northerly species of fish down here too, with Tony and his boys netting a few sweetlip and coral trouts.
Of course this is all coming at the expense of the colder-climate species like the salmon which are retreating south.
With more reef fish making an appearance in our waters, Tony and Jason want to remind everyone about the dangers of ciguatera poisoning.
“Make sure big spanish mackerel and reef fish are blooded and put on ice immediately,” Tony said.