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Estuaries at their Summer best
  |  First Published: December 2006



Once the cicadas are in full voice you know that the estuary and freshwater fishing along the Coffs Coast will be at its Summertime best.

My son Kurt and I fished a local brackish estuary from our canoe recently and enjoyed some exciting action, releasing three bass, three flathead and a bream. With the second half of the run-out tide creating visible current eddies and the recent rain pushing downstream, the freshwater reaches of the river were at their most elongated best, stretching well down into areas that are normally full of salt.

The first fish of the trip was a 31cm bream that ate Kurt's small surface fizzer the moment it landed next to a deep, undercut bank.

Kurt caught the next fish, a 39cm bass, on the same fizzer in a classic deep hole that had a rope swing and ladder rigged up for the local kids to enjoy themselves on hot days. The bass powerfully sucked down the gold fizzer without the audible jaw snap and flurry of fins that the bream had displayed.

The fish of the trip came about 20 minutes later, a 46cm bronzed thumper of a bass that moved a lot of water as it smashed my small, twitching, Halco diver in front of an overhanging bush that stretched down to the water.

An hour later, when we started to catch flathead, we turned around and headed back up into the fresh with its willing bronzed battlers hitting our surface lures with gusto during the last hour of daylight.

I haven't been fishing for mangrove jacks recently but a mate picked up a 47cm model while trolling for flathead with a diving crankbait.

BEACH BONANZA

On the beaches there have been jewfish from 2kg to 7kg hitting plastics on the rocks and bigger models to 15kg taking dead fish baits and beach worms from the sand. North Beach, down near Urunga, Hills Beach, Sapphire Beach and Corindi Beach have been the pick of the jewie possies.

If whiting, dart and bream are your favourites then you can't go past Boambee Beach with its accessible gutters, good populations of beach worms and easy to drive-on sand, making for enjoyable family fishing. Some of the deeper gutters near the entrance to Boambee Creek are great for big bream and jewfish at night with beach worms, pipis and mullet fillets.

MACKEREL

Offshore the spotted mackerel, Spanish mackerel and longtail tuna can't be too far away with schools of pilchards, slimy mackerel, mack tuna and bonito enjoying the cool water without any larger predators looking to eat them.

Anglers hoping to get the bigger pelagics should concentrate on slow-trolling livebaits around the inshore reefs with mackerel turning up when reef and bait schools coincide.

To the south try Whitmores Reef off the mouth of Boambee Creek and Bundagen Reef to the south of Sawtell. To the North of Coffs the washes around the Solitary Islands will produce mackerel, as will the inshore reefs at Macauleys Headland, Korora, Moonee, Woolgoolga, Sandy Beach and Arrawarra.

In the cooler waters there have been kingfish, amberjack, samson and tailor on the bite with metal jigs and livebaits producing kings to 12kg and tailor to 2.5kg. Rockhoppers throwing metal lures have been catching tailor, salmon, mack tuna and rat kings, with the washes around Mutton Bird Island and the South Wall the pick spots.

Emerald Headland is a sneaky LBG ledge but if you are fishing the rocks, never turn your back on the ocean and learn to read the swell conditions before you venture out onto exposed and wet rocks.

Transparencies

1

Peter Lenard with 52cm of wild bass taken on a surface fizzer after dark.

2

Having great North Coast bass country to yourself can take a bit of finding this month but the further you go, the better the fishing.

3

Matt Templeton with a pair of 4kilo school jew taken from the sand.

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