It’s a dry argument
  |  First Published: December 2012

After the last few years of well above average rainfall, all I was hearing from anglers was ‘gee I wish this rain would go away.’ A year later, all I hear is ‘man, we need some rain!’

Whether it’s estuary or offshore, trout or marlin, it seems a dry argument.

The land around our rivers has definitely been looking pretty brown in places, even with the odd small showers we’ve been having.

The upper parts of our catchments could definitely do with the extra flow from Summer rains. With the lack of water the bass this season seem to be slowly working their way up through the rivers and creeks.

The reduced flow has also meant that many of the shallower sections that would normally hold fish have been vacated in favour of the deeper holes. It means the bass are slightly more concentrated but there can be large stretches of relatively fishless water.

One bonus of this situation is that when we finally do get rain the bass should be very keen to spread out into these shallower areas and feed in water previously inaccessible for the past few months.

Medium to large diving hardbodies have been accounting for many of the bass. Surface lures are also working well but with fewer cicadas this year the cicada lures haven’t been quite the sure thing they were last year.

The upper end of any of our creeks and rivers will yield bass this time of year.


Up on the plateau the situation is very similar, although the lack of water and scorching heat could well endanger the trout this summer.

Throwing spinners and hardbodies has been quite difficult in some streams due to very low water. On a recent trip I ended up scrapping the hardbodies and resorted to throwing a Woolly Bugger fly on the spin gear. If you don’t have fly gear this can be a great technique in smaller streams with low water.

You’ll have to get close to the fish before casting but these flies are far more subtle than spinners or hardbodies. Try something like dark coloured, tungsten bead-head Woolly Buggers in a size 10.

Don’t be tempted by the larger sizes, it’s better to sacrifice some casting distance for a bit more finesse in the shallow water.


The estuaries have been a little less affected by the lack of rain, other than the salt and brackish water pushing up the systems a bit farther than normal.

The rivers and creeks have been quite clear in the lower reaches, making stealth and finesse the way to go when chasing fish.

There are plenty of flathead around with some very big females being captured on hardbodies and soft prawn imitations.

Remember that these are the breeders so if you want a feed of flathead it’s better to keep the 40cm-60cm models and put back the 70cm-plus specimens. They’re not as good for eating anyway and they produce the next generation that we’ll be catching in a few years.

Bonville Creek has still been only trickling through at the entrance but there are some solid schools of bream and whiting chasing what bait they can in the lower flats and weed beds.

Mangrove jacks are popping up in most estuaries, with most being captured on lures worked in tight around bridges and snags.

Keep your lure in the zone for as long as possible and keep your reactions primed for an epic fight.


Offshore there have been large patches of mack tuna and bonito chasing very small baitfish all along the coast. Small metal slugs down to 10g have been needed to ‘match the hatch’ and entice a strike. Most larger offerings have been rejected.

The snapper have been patchy, on and off this Spring. There have been some very large specimens up to 11kg-plus caught down towards Nambucca but most fish have been 2kg-6kg.

Plenty of kingfish have been hanging out wide on some of the deeper marks, where jigging has been by far the best method for catching numbers. Getting a live bait down to the reefs is a great way to get onto something bigger than average, though.

From the rocks and beaches the tuna are an option but with the small lures required, casting distance isn’t going to be great.

There have been moderate numbers of jewfish caught along the beaches and headlands and that should continue as the Summer whiting move along the beach gutters.

It’s been mostly school mulloway that have been caught on bait and plastics, but there have been a few bigger models coming ashore, too.

It will be Christmas in a few weeks so make the most of the vast number of fishing spots in our area that are away from town and far from the crowds. If you’re visiting the Coffs coast this Christmas, drop in to Fishing Tackle Australia and get an update on what’s biting where – and remember to fish safe.

Have a great Christmas.

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