They’re on in the ‘off season’!
  |  First Published: June 2012

Reflecting on the great fishing results of the past few months, you just get the feeling that we’re on a gradual slide towards Winter. For the dedicated, however, there are still plenty of game fish to be caught.

In fact, that’s the case right through the so-called ‘off season’ along the Coffs coast – it’s simply a matter of picking the better weather days and monitoring the sea surface temps for when a block of warmer water comes rolling down from up north.

With the late sunrise time, it doesn’t feel like you’re getting up in the middle of the night to go fishing, either.

The blue marlin are more spread out – certainly not as thick as they were a month or two back – and the bait is also noticeably harder to find and the multiple bite days are dropping back to single hits.

The signs of the transition into the cooler months are being marked by the water quality becoming somewhat patchy, the presence of little tuna birds (prions), sauries, yellowfin tuna and, of course, more striped marlin popping up in lure spreads.

Being somewhat smaller than blues, these guys are also messy eaters and often have trouble getting their mouths around the larger blue marlin lures. Consequently, it might be worth having an each-way bet with at least one smaller lure out there or keeping a pitch bait attached to a 24kg rod on standby in case a spangled line-tangler appears and can’t decide what it wants to eat.

Fishing well wide of the coast on Wicked Weasel, we ran into the motherlode of yellowfin tuna on Easter Sunday. Typically, it was late in the day and we had only an hour on them, but snared three fish around 22-23kgand some nice mahi mahi.

A real fish soup of tropical fusiliers, rainbow runners, juvenile kings and small mahi mahi followed one tuna to the boat and a bucket of pilchard cubes all cut up and ready to go would have had us in fishing heaven.

The tuna school was 10 fathoms thick in one place, certainly the most yellowfin I’ve ever seen on a sounder screen, and they hung around the general area for quite a while. This is in contrast to their usual frustrating habit of blasting off in a different direction the moment you reach them.


The big news here has been the Solitary Islands Game Fishing Club’s second Heavy Tackle Challenge, held just after Easter. Nineteen boats and 86 anglers recorded 31 bites for six blue marlin, two striped marlin and a spearfish release.

There was no real hot spot, with the marlin bites spread out far and wide, but most boats encountered billfish as well as mahi mahi and yellowfin.

The crew aboard Gameful Employment, who have figured in these pages a fair bit this season, pulled a pair of ripper yellowfin of 61kg and 78kg, the latter being the second-heaviest weighed by a recreational angler in Coffs Harbour.

Champion boat was Seaborn, with a blue and a striped marlin caught by Nic Edwards and Elise Currey, who were champion junior and female anglers. Black And Blue was runner-up with a blue marlin and a spearfish and had champion male angler Jacob Lancaster on the rod.


Inshore the spotted and Spanish mackerel are steady if not red hot and it pays to keep an ear to the ground to establish which locations are firing on any given day.

There have been a couple of ‘bar-ees’ over 20kg boated, so at this time of year you just never quite know what’s going to slam that chin-weighted bonito or live slimy mackerel.

Ditto for activity up at South Solitary light.

The wahoo are on one day and absent the next; their feeding enthusiasm being tied to water colour and current strength.

If you’re keen to catch a ’hoo, consecutive days on the water working their known haunts seems to be the answer.

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