Coming on strong
  |  First Published: December 2010

Much-needed Spring rains lashed the coast and lifted levels in our local rivers.

In early October, the prime bass waters of the Bellinger and Kalang systems were low and running only weakly but now they’re running strong again.

The fish were still there and active when the water was a little low but the higher levels give fish more opportunity to travel, produce more food and more habitat for fish to live in, all of which provide anglers with fit fish ready to go. There’s not so much dragging of the canoe, either…

For those looking to hit the blue water, there are plenty of mahi mahi from around 60 fathoms onwards out to the continental shelf.

Areas in 80 to 120 fathoms have been coming up with some striped marlin from 80kg to 100kg as well as good yellowfin tuna up to 40kg – don’t be afraid to head a little wider if you’re after the tuna.

There has been plenty of bait hanging on or near the surface, a great sign for the game fishing to come.

If you’re not keen to head out that far but still want your arms stretched, there have been good kings around the Solitary Islands.

For a bit of fun with rat kings, drop some big 7” to 9” soft plastics down on snapper gear. Plenty of rats are falling to the plastics and there are bigger ones mixed in as well, with a few reports of unstoppable freight trains that make mockery of a medium spin outfit.


The Christmas holidays are is creeping up on and now is the perfect time to get the family out and have a fish.

It’s not a bad way to spend an afternoon in the sun on the riverbank and there are plenty of great spots locally to do it without any hassles.

Places like Moonee, north of Coffs, and the banks of the Bellinger River at Repton or the Kalang at Urunga are all safe and easily accessible spots to wet a line with the kids.

Walking these banks with a few plastics is a great way to pick up a few flatties and there have been plenty around right throughout these systems.

I fished plastics down the bottom end of the Bellinger recently and found bucketloads of lizards in the just-legal 38cm to 40cm range.

My fishing buddy Paul Van Den Boom and son Marley went up the top end of the same river and found a few better quality fish willing to eat hardbodies as well as plastics.


The rains didn’t worry the early season trout, either.

Water levels rose with the rain but clarity wasn’t too bad and plenty of fish are still being caught.

The small rainbows and browns are already eager to take dry flies and on the warmer days, even the little ones will smash big grasshopper or cicada imitations just about all day.

I will be heading up there for a few sessions over the next few weeks while the Christmas crowds hang around down the coast, but I’ll still hit a few of my secret spots after a bass or jack while it’s warm.

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