Tough it out for big thrills
  |  First Published: July 2013

July can be one of the hardest months for fishing. This is not because of the lack of fish but due to a lack of warmth!

It can be very hard to gain the motivation to go out and catch a few on a frosty morning, or a blustery and rainy night when you know you could just sit around in your warm house and watch someone else catch fish on your TV.

Even though you may lack motivation, the fish certainly won’t be suffering the same affliction. For those that do manage to rug up and get motivated to face that cold weather, there are plenty of fish there for the catching.

It’s very easy to feel as though the fish might not be very active when it’s cold but I assure you that’s usually not the case.

The other thing to remember is that the underwater weather is often very different to up here. Generally this month the waters on the Coffs coast, including the estuaries, will actually be warmer than the air.

The East Australian Current is usually running very close to the coast into early winter. Many of the warm-water species find the most comfortable conditions during this time.

Mangrove jacks are often considered a Summer-only species in the Coffs region but June-July 2012 was probably the best period for catching jacks all year. This year could be similar.

There are still very active jacks in the estuaries as well as plenty of trevally. Small to medium hard-bodied lures are generally the most popular but a weedless-rigged soft plastic is probably the best compromise for covering more ground but keeping a lure in their faces for longer.

The bream will also be up in the higher stretches of our estuaries and will respond to similar lures. Bream and mangrove jacks will also respond to a poddy mullet cast into a snag in these areas.

The upper reaches of Bonville and Boambee creeks are probably the most popular and accessible, with other smaller creeks out of town producing occasional fish as well.


Mulloway have been active up in the estuaries as well as around the river mouths, beach gutters and headlands.

Your best chance of a 3kg-6kg school jew, or one of the many bigger 15kg-20kg specimens, is to fish the deepest and best gutters during the night high tide.

Squid is still the form bait over the past month but strip baits of mullet, tuna or tailor have also worked well. However, they tend to get more attention from the sharks.

There are plenty of bream in these gutters and tailor will frequent any good gutter if there’s food present.

On the headlands, mulloway and tailor are still worth targeting, as are kingfish and drummer.

Sharks have been a constant possibility whenever using larger baits around headlands and near shore reefs.

Black fish schools are also there for those wanting to target them. Sawtell headland/Bonville creek mouth, the south wall and headland of the Harbour and Urunga’s many breakwalls are all holding good schools of luderick.

If you can get your weed/float rig into a nice pocket on most headlands you also should bag a nice feed of luderick.


Offshore there have been schools of medium-sized mack tuna and bonito from the inshore reefs out to the islands.

The inshore reefs are fishing well for snapper as well as the odd mulloway. The islands have also been fishing well for snapper and rat kingfish, with the odd larger king around the washes, pinnacles and drop-offs.

This month we should be able to chase larger kingfish and samson fish on the deeper reefs. They respond well to knife jigs and I find that the most enjoyable way of catching them.

If they are not hitting the jigs but you can see them on the sounder, a live bait dropped down to the depths is almost irresistible to both species and should get results.

The bait schools have been a little inconsistent over the past few months so you may have to hunt around a bit to find the bait. When you do score livies they will attract any offshore predator.

If you can get out during this middle month of Winter you should be rewarded with plenty of fish and crowdless beaches and waterways – not a luxury we can enjoy during many other times of year.

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