Easter can be one of the best fishing times of the year. Plenty of us have at least a couple of extra days off and around Coffs we tend to get a nice crossover period when the warm-water fish hang around but the milder days and Winter species are already here, too.
There is only one word to describe the past couple of months in the Coffs region –patchy. Patchy weather, patchy water and patchy fish.
The weather was patchy all the way through summer and it seems set to continue.
Intermittent rain has meant that water in the estuaries has been very patchy, too. Just as it seems to clear up, down would come another rain event and start it all again.
Luckily it seems the fish are quite happy with these fluctuations but they have been moving around a bit.
When there is a lot of fresh in the systems it’s always worth checking those deeper holes for fish and crabs. The crabs and some fish hang down deeper in these places because the denser, saltier water tends pool up in the slower, deeper holes.
These can be great places to spin up school mulloway on plastics or sound out some fish with metal blades.
Bream, flathead and whiting have all been very patchy but effort lower down in the estuaries has been rewarded.
Some fish have felt so secure in the dirty water that they’ve thrown caution to the wind, enabling some anglers have exceptional sessions on lures. Then as soon as the clear tide comes back in, they’ll shut right down.
Schools of trevally are still hanging around further upstream in the estuaries where there is still the chance of the odd mangrove jack.
Rock bars closer to the mouths of the major rivers have also been producing some quality jacks. The marina is also a well-known but sometimes busy spot for encounters with jacks and trevally.
They have been caught on diving minnows as well as surface lures, although the resident fish there have seen a lot of hooks and can be very finicky when it comes to taking a strike at a passing lure.
In some ways the bass fishing has been less patchy in recent months – there have been weeks at a time when most rivers and creeks have been unfishable or even unreachable. For those that have ventured into the fresh stuff there have been rewards.
Some ground that would normally be too shallow to target has produced fish during all this rain.
Forecasts indicate that the rain shouldn’t dominate April as it has over the Summer but even if there is a bit more water than normal, make sure you get out and have a rethink about what water is fishable.
Look for large eddies and pools where the fish like to hold up and have a rest from the fast flowing water.
Also try thinking about where their food’s coming from. When it rains, a lot of terrestrial worms, bugs and small animals get washed into the creeks. Bass love eating them and will queue up where small drains and wash-outs pour into the river.
The coastal waters have also been very patchy. The fresh water from the rivers, cold water from deep down and the warm East Australian Current have all been mixing to make for very inconsistent water.
Fortunately the EAC seems to be pumping a lot more consistently over the past month and the fishing has become a little more predictable.
Longtail tuna have been regular over the inshore reefs but have been quite fussy when it comes to food selection. Smaller lures seem to be working best, followed closely by floating pilchards around the bait schools.
Mackerel have continued to pop up regularly but not predictably. The hardbody lures seem to have been capturing many of the better specimens.
For the bottom bouncers there have still been plenty of snapper, some pearl perch and good numbers of smaller teraglin on the deeper reefs.
Those putting in the time and effort off the rocks have had chances with the spotties and longtail tuna but things have been inconsistent, to say the least.
Muttonbird Island, Diggers Headland and Sawtell would be the best bets.Reads: 894