Rampant chaos
  |  First Published: April 2014

The Coffs Harbour game fishing season continues to meander along with the odd marlin here and there, but there’s not been a whole lot to get excited about over the past month.

Out wide, the current continues to pump hard to the south, bringing awesome looking 27ºC water, but making it hard to work any proven grounds. Trying to get up north into the current is seeing boats burning a lot of fuel without making much headway. An easing of the blue torrent, which usually occurs round the end of summer, should restore the marlin fishing to its usual quality. Meanwhile, it’s a matter of just driving over one.

There remains a number of school yellowfin along the shelf line though, although the size has declined over the past month. These are mixed in with striped tuna, so sneaking a feather or Christmas tree into the spread is a good way of accumulating additional tag points, scoring some sashimi, or topping up the bait freezer for the winter snapper season.

Mahi mahi remain pretty good, and older trap floats, the FAD, and wave recorder continue to hold them. The trick is winkling out the wise old bigger ones — which are quite visible down deep — as the uneducated bubbas are quick to pounce on anything thrown at them.

In comparison to last season, the little blacks haven’t really clicked into gear this summer, the water inshore perhaps not being to their liking despite a reasonable amount of bait present. There are a few stragglers out deeper and along the shelf, and it’s as comical as it is frustrating watching a 30kg black trying to eat a 14” lure! That said, it’s only mid-way through the season as I write and the Gold Coast is still enjoying a good bite, so never say never.

Terns, usually a gaggle of 2 or 3, have often been pinpointing their presence.

The mackerel, however, have gone from strength to strength, with some saying it’s the best season on record. A big call, but if I’m catching them they must be thick! Whether this has to do with the lack of run-off from the coastal flooding the Coffs coast usually gets hammered with at this time of year is difficult to say, but regardless it’s happy days all round. The Spanish are mostly small, from 4-12kg, while the spotties are huge, some hovering around the 8-9kg mark. There have been two ciguatera cases reported from northern NSW and in Queensland, so the modest size of the ‘bar-ees’, while perhaps not boast-worthy, might actually be a blessing.

Of course, the scattered inshore blacks love nothing more than spoiling a mackerel troller’s day by nailing that often hard-won slimy and tying him up for half the morning, when the game fishos would kill for such an encounter…


The Solitary Islands Game Fishing Club will be hosting its fourth Heavy Tackle Challenge out of Coffs Harbour on the 29th and 30th of March, 2014.

There are some tasty prizes on offer, with a nice cash component in addition to the ever-popular Calcutta. Let’s face it, running a trailerboat or a flybridge cruiser is getting ever-more expensive, and increased financial incentives to offset operating costs is a direction club-based game fishing in this state needs to embrace if it is to prosper.

Late March is a great time to be fishing at Coffs, especially for blue marlin, and there are bonus points for each identifiably photographed blue release. To emphasise the heavy tackle aspect, the minimum line class is 24kg.

For further details and a downloadable entry form, go to www.solitaryislandsgamefishingclub.com or phone President James McGinty on 0418 969 798.


Readers may have seen the nearby photo doing the rounds of fishing social media, but if not, this is what passed for Coffs Harbour’s boat ramp back at the end of January. Whacko, we have a new beach — break out the buckets and spades!

What an absolute bloody disgrace. Coffs Harbour City Council’s expensive long arm excavator was nowhere to be seen, and the ramp remained closed for 3 days. This came as a great surprise to a number of out of towners who had travelled to Coffs to go fishing, and a fibreglass runabout got smashed up on the rocks when it grounded while coming through the entrance.

The ramp entrance should never have been allowed to get to that state, end of story.

A million dollars has been slated to re-construct the ramp area, with work proposed to start later this year, but that doesn’t mean the council can take their eye off the ball in the meantime.

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