D is for duplicant – I have just read through my Coffs Harbour report for December last year and I could almost re-submit that report for this year too! It has been a remarkably similar winter and spring compared to 2012 and so it will be well worth looking at what happened last year in your fishing as a hint of what might come this summer.
During December last year the offshore scene was dominated by a black plague of marlin. Everything this year has indicated that the run of small black marlin will head down the coast again, but what’s not certain is if they will hug the coast like they did last summer. If the pocket of cold water off our coast stays as it is they will likely swim on past a fair bit wide of land. They should still be on the cards but maybe only for those venturing out towards the shelf. If the East Australian Current moves in and pushes that colder water out then we could see another great run of inshore mini marlin.
Trolling live baits, small skirts and hardbodies worked well last year, although marlin were caught on almost every kind of rig around. I even heard of one being caught on a bait jig aimed at small bonito.
The action surrounding our other summer visitors such as mackerel, longtail tuna and mahi mahi will also be dependent on the EAC. There have been some large bull mahi mahi caught out wide in the warmer water but they will not move too much closer unless we lose this cold coastal water. We should see mackerel turn up over the next month so it’s time to start thinking about single strand wire on some of your rigs if trolling lures or using live baits. I’ve found that snapper don’t seem to be bothered too much by wire so I usually have 54lb wire on all my trolling lures from December on.
Around the headlands and beaches there are plenty of mulloway to be caught with some decent size models coming as a surprise to some. Warren Forbes of Nambucca caught a 19kg beauty while fishing a worm off the beach on his whiting gear. There have also been some 6-10kg specimens surprising the odd bream and jack angler up in the estuaries.
Even if you don’t end up with a surprise mulloway the estuaries are still producing good fish. The jacks are becoming very active in the middle and upper parts of all the coastal systems. Even in the middle of summer they tend to stick pretty close to structure so you will have to find the prime snags to find the big fish. Rock bars and snags that sit out in the flow but provide an eddy for the predators to rest in, will nearly always house the bigger fish in the area.
While you’re out jack fishing it’s a great time to throw in a crab pot and catch a feed of muddies while you fish. Remember to check the regulations to ensure your equipment and crabs comply. Also note that it’s not a great idea to leave your crab pots unattended for long as the crabs can damage them, or you may lose your crabs and/or pot to someone who can’t be bothered buying their own.
Whiting are now very active on the surface for those keen to throw a popper or walker around the flats. It’s best chasing them on the sand banks on the incoming tide and around the adjacent drop-offs once the tide starts falling.
Flathead will follow this same pattern and there have been some larger breeding females caught recently but as always there are a lot more smaller, eager males around that make up the majority of the fish caught.
As I mentioned last month the bream will be very keen chasing insects on the surface so the cicada and bug lures will become increasingly effective the further we get into summer.
In the freshwater, the bass have been quite aggressive in parts as they queue up downstream of barriers waiting for higher river levels to continue up stream. This plays into the anglers hands and has produced some prolific sessions on fish eager to beat the next bass to that tasty looking cicada. In almost all the systems the bass are well on their way up the rivers and creeks but unless we get decent rain they will continue to be slowed if not stopped by some of these river wide barricades, both natural and artificial.
The trout are also in a similar predicament as last year, with some cooler weather and rain needed to give reprieve to the fish in sweltering conditions. Most of the larger creeks have been fishing well and the larger pools in the small creeks likewise, but if this heat keeps up the trout in some streams will be in real danger.
The sun can be very dangerous to anglers as well so if you’re out enjoying your holidays with the family or just a weekend on the boat make sure to slip, slop, slap and have a great Christmas and New year.Reads: 737