Cooler water lingers
  |  First Published: October 2013

After a month of trying to meander out of what was a pretty mild Winter we are still getting the odd bit of cool weather and the water’s definitely still on the chilly side.

That’s all normal for this time of year in Coffs, though. On this part of the coast October is often the coldest time of year, in terms of ocean temperatures.

The East Australian Current has not yet pushed back to the coast and the early north-east sea breezes push the surface water away from the coast.

This causes upwellings and brings even colder water up from the depths, which in turn makes the sea breeze effect even stronger.

This a great relief to land dwellers struggling with the warming season but it also has a significant effect on the marine conditions, too.

The upwelling water brings with it nutrients which combine with sunlight to provide ideal plankton growth. This provides food for the baitfish which, we always hope, will attract the predators to the coast.

Even with the cold water there has still been plenty of good fishing offshore.

The snapper are spread out but can certainly be found in good numbers from shallow reefs right out to the deeper reefs and islands. Among the snapper schools are decent numbers of pearl perch and the odd kingfish and samson fish, which are all great on the table and fight strongly.

There are large schools of rat kingfish around the prominent reef pinnacles and island washes.


I have mentioned Toby Piddocke’s mangrove jack research several times in the Past year and I thought this story might be of interest.

Toby told me of one of his live fish from Deep Creek being captured. Not incredible in itself, apart from the fact that it was captured at South Solitary Island, over 50km away.

Other than that particular fish there have been plenty that are still in the rivers.

Jacks have been caught in all the local creeks over the past month and should continue to heat up.

This time of year is usually best if you’re chasing jacks on lures, as they seem to be more aggressive at the start of the season.

The middle to upper stretches of most local estuaries have been home to plenty of mulloway. Most are small school fish but there have been some large specimens up to 1m even in some of the smaller creeks.

Most of these have come on slowly worked soft plastics.

On the headlands and beaches there have also been some exceptional catches including a 35kg mulloway caught off Sawtell Headland on a soft plastic and light gear in the middle of a hot, sunny day.

A lot of people wouldn’t have bothered fishing in those conditions, which are perceived as not ideal for mulloway fishing. With that attitude this angler would have missed out on a fish of a lifetime.

That’s why I always advocate ‘just getting out there when you’ve got time. You might just be that lucky one that catches when the conditions are all ‘wrong’.

Sawtell, Boambee and Urunga walls are seeing regular mulloway catches, as well as tailor and the odd trailing salmon.

Squid is still the bait of choice if not using lures.


Trout anglers will be counting the days until the 2013/14 season starts. Only a week into this month and many anglers will have some trout on the board for this year.

Bright colours are always popular at this time of year and the lack of water will mean the larger, deeper pools will be best targeted.

For the fly-fisher egg patterns and streamers will work well to get down into some deeper pools around the drops.

Some of the smaller creeks will have very low flow volume if this lack of rain persists, so the larger creeks will likely fish better.

If you haven’t fished the trout country between Dorrigo and Armidale it’s not too complicated.

Most creeks of reasonable size contain trout. Just ensure that you get the landholder’s permission before fishing on private land; they will often have the inside scoop on the fish anyway so it’s well worth the chat.

There are some waters with public access around the area. The best place to start looking is at the Dutton Trout Hatchery near Ebor. It’s well worth a tour through the facility and there’s plenty of info about the local trout fishery, too.

After a fairly dry end to Winter the bass will most likely be moving slowly upstream in our local rivers.

Medium-sized hardbodies will still be the best bet when targeting bass, especially in the daytime.

In the evening surface lures will work well some days but don’t really come into their own until it heats up a little more.

If you’re getting out this Spring, enjoy the sun and the sand before it heats up too much next over Summer.

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