Escaping the crowds
  |  First Published: December 2012

Crowds can seem inevitable over the holidays. The highways are bumper to bumper, the shopping centres are overflowing and the local swimming beaches are packed.

Fortunately, in this region you don’t have to fish with the holiday crowds. Whether you’re getting away from the city crowds by coming to the Coffs Harbour region, or you’re a local trying to avoid holiday crowds in town, there are plenty of spots around where you can relax.

The beaches offer a great way to escape. Access by 4WD to beaches like Boambee, Corindi, Hearns Lake, Woolgoolga Back Beach and North Beach at Urunga makes it easy to escape the crowds and catch fish.

There are plenty of great gutters along these beaches and there is great fun to be had chasing whiting, bream and mulloway.

Remember that there are restrictions and regulations regarding 4WD beach access in the Coffs Harbour region and permits are required for some council areas, so consult the relevant council websites for more info and safety tips.

If you’re after some rock fishing then there is plenty to choose from, with most headlands in the area holding fish. There are tailor, bonito, mulloway and trevally hanging around in the washes of most headlands.

There is also the chance of mackerel, tuna and cobia on some of the deeper headlands like Charlesworth Bay, Muttonbird Island and the southern breakwall.


The Harbour jetty is often thought of first when taking the family for a fish but inside the marina is also great place to take the kids.

It can sometimes be a bit crowded but there are usually enough spots for you and the kids to throw in a few prawns.

At this time of year you never know what you’ll get in the marina. Anything from yellowtail, bream and flathead to mulloway, trevally, mangrove jack and even bonito will frequent the marina so it’s not just for small fish.

Boambee Bay, Bonville Creek and Moonee Creek are also great family-friendly places where you can pump yabbies and throw out a line for the normal estuary species.

Away from town, there have been many estuaries fishing quite well this Summer.

The Kalang River, Deep Creek and Moonee Creek have all been active with a large number of trevally and jacks caught on small hardbodies.

This month the surface action really heats up so casting a popper or surface walker around the snags at dawn or dusk will almost certainly tempt a fish.

There are big flathead in all the local creeks but it’s hard work getting past all the smaller males that surround the big girls. The males of 40cm-60cm are generally the better eating size, anyway, but throwing larger lures around can sometimes limit the smaller catch if you’re chasing the bigger fish for catch and release.


The sound of cicadas in the trees has finally started to build over the last couple of months, meaning that cicada-style surface lures will be well worth throwing in the freshwater systems for bass.

It has been a dry Summer so far but we have been getting the odd rain event in recent months and it’s after these rainy times that it’s well worth getting out and chasing the bass when they’re on the move and keen for a feed.

The same applies for the trout on the Dorrigo Plateau. With low rivers there can be quite a shake-up after rain.

Fishing terrestrial imitations is your best bet after rain but, as normal, it’s all about matching the hatch.

Despite the low water, the signs are that this trout season is looking to match the quality of last Summer. There have been many large browns and rainbows caught this side of Ebor, so it’s well worth the drive for a day trip.


Offshore waters have been off and on. There have been plenty of slimy mackerel around and so it would seem natural that the larger fish should be around to chase them. And they have been there some days, but then they’ve gone the next.

Mackerel should be around in numbers this month and the longtail tuna shouldn’t be far behind.

Talk of numbers of small black marlin working down the coast mean we may see some pointy-nosed surprises for some of the inshore mackerel anglers.

For the mackerel it’s a matter of finding the bait and the warm water together. Trolling live bait is your best bet and trolling dead slimies or bonito will be the next-best thing.

Places like Park Beach Bommie will be easy to check if you’re seeking a spot to catch live bait. Many boats will be catching their live bait in the morning and then taking off to marks like Bullocky, Whitmores and The Patches or heading out to the islands.

To avoid the crowds offshore you will have to travel north of the main island, south of Urunga or stay around the inshore reefs.

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