Season shaping up nicely
  |  First Published: December 2013

Gamefishing types around Coffs Harbour have a spring in their step at this time of year because they know what’s around the corner, but it would be nice to get some stable weather for a change. Howling northerlies replaced by howling southerlies, with a half to one-day weather window in between is getting extremely tiresome. The only pleasing aspect of the southerlies is that they push the bluewater into the coast, and of course the attendant pelagics that are riding it.

The marlin are definitely out there though, with enough being seen and caught to suggest it could be a reasonable season for blues at least. We’re still waiting to see if there will be a baby black invasion like last summer though. Reports from Northern and Central Queensland don’t seem quite as intense as the build-up to last season’s epic, but it’s early days yet.

From a personal perspective, five marlin bites in the first three trips of the new season suggests it’s shaping up nicely as we run into summer. Of course, two blues dropped — one 50ft from the boat and another on the leader — doesn’t make for a happy skipper. With GoPros hanging off every conceivable mounting place on the boat these days, the agony was there for all to see from multiple angles. The look of fury on my face as I climbed up to switch off the rooftop camera after the second loss was a horrifying sight. I think I even scared myself!

The patchy water that was a feature of spring has blessedly been replaced by a more stable blue colour, with it lots of current — almost too much — up to 3.5 knots at times. This makes for a very quick trip down the coast and an agonisingly slow one up it if the bite is in the opposite direction to where you’re fishing.

Fast moving schools of striped tuna are the predominant bait species offshore at present, although big patches of forearm-long slimy mackerel were milling around the bottom of the Patches in late October. There were a few cobia lolling about amongst them too, but were obviously too well fed to eat a mackerel with a hook in it.

The black clouds of mutton birds that have descended on every boat trying to bait fish inshore over the last month has been an added incentive to swap the floater rods for game gear and get out wide. The flying rats have been so bad that they’ve even taken to eating soft plastics and stealing livies off bait jigs. Couple this with dead, lifeless water and green slime on the lines, and it spells bad news for the bait soakers.

Mahi mahi should be starting to show soon, and the longliners have been plucking the odd beauty up to 26kg. Solitary Islands GFC boat Magnum had a chance encounter with a giant squid that had been dead for a long time (going by the smell), but it didn’t deter the green and yellow speedsters though. Nic Edwards and Daran Ryan tagged five each between 8kg and 12kg, and Nic kept one bull that weighed 18.5kg on 15, which is a top fish.

Dean Szabo scored the first In-Hours marlin for the same club back in late October, tagging a 130kg blue on 24kg while fishing from Alcatraz.

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