Smack-bang in the middle
  |  First Published: July 2012

We’re smack-bang in the middle of my favourite time of year at Coffs. This is a great time to be fishing, usually marked by crisp mornings, beautiful clear days, warm (but not scorching) sun and a lack of crowds on our beaches and waterways.

Really, though, it’s the standard of the fishing that’s most heart-warming.

Offshore, we are in the middle of snapper time.

There will be plenty of snapper schooling around the shallow reefs and they’ll be chasing baitfish and hopefully whatever you’re throwing at them.

For your best chances try working soft plastics around the inshore pinnacles and drop-offs especially in areas with heavy concentrations of bait.

Plastics also work well on the deeper reefs, where bait schools can attract snapper and pearl perch – an excellent dinner combo which can be improved only by sinking your hooks into one of the last mackerel that may be straggling behind on their migration to warmer water.

Berleying on these reefs can have the same effect as the baitfish schools, attracting these species to your waiting baits. Snapper, pearl perch and kingfish are all candidates for a bottom bait, a floating pilchard or a squid strip in the berley trail.

Farther offshore, decent samson fish and kingies will be available on knife jigs or deep live baits.


For the rock angler there will be plenty of potential this month with the snapper moving in close, mulloway active in the gutters and holes and some big tailor and kingfish cruising the headlands.

Often in Winter the rock platforms can almost suffer from too little swell. During these times it can be well worth fishing soft plastic lures really close to the rocks, aiming for the splits and crevices along the headlands.

Mulloway love to lie up in these areas to get some cover from the whitewash.

It can be very hard to get baits into these areas without becoming snagged easily. Soft plastics can be a way to access these areas but hopefully keep your hooks off the snags by staying in contact with your lure.

You still lose some lures but you also get some fish, too.

Another reason soft plastics have become popular from the rocks is that you can cover ground quite easily with little gear.

If the swell is down and you’ve got several hours, why not grab a few plastics and jig heads, throw them in a backpack and try to cover two or three headlands in one session instead of parking on the same rock for four hours.

This way you cover a lot of ground and search for the active fish, rather than waiting for the fish in one spot to turn on. It can be great fun and great fishing.

You can mix it up a bit by throwing around a metal slug or hardbody and perhaps latch onto one of the big tailor or kingfish that have been cruising the headlands.


Those mulloway and tailor will also be on offer in the beach gutters and channels, especially near the river mouths.

Soft plastics and metals can again be a great way of covering several gutters in one session as well as tracking down those active fish, but slab baits and whole squid will be the baits of choice for those willing to put in a cold night for some of the bigger mulloway that will be stalking the beaches this month.

In the estuaries there has been plenty of action.

The past two months have definitely been the most active for mangrove jacks this season. They have been far more consistent recently and they will still be there for the taking this month, although with the colder water they will be slowing down.

Smaller hardbodies such as Ecogear SX60s or Pontoon 21 Crackjacks offer a great way to target jacks and trevally without ruling out catching some of the quality bream that have been calling our creeks and rivers home.

There have been good numbers of mulloway hanging around the bridges and deeper holes in the upstream reaches and they have been readily taking soft plastics.

Fishing larger, lightly weighted plastics around the snags and pylons probably offers the best shot at landing a few of the larger specimens in our estuaries.

Whether you’re in the boat, paddling a kayak or on foot, make sure you get out and enjoy the mild weather, uncrowded waterways and excellent fishing while you can.

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