Inshore pelagics fire up
  |  First Published: April 2007

Large schools of whitebait, slimy mackerel, garfish and tailor have turned on the inshore pelagics in recent weeks with tuna, mackerel and tailor all biting well on baits and lures.

On the deeper northern beaches, we have managed to put together good catches of school jew, tailor and bream. On the beaches to the south of town, whiting, dart, flathead, bream, tarwhine and some jew have been caught with most daytime anglers enjoying the light-line fishing on offer at Boambee Beach and North Beach near Repton.

For offshore anglers the mackerel have started to bite freely with most of the spotty action taking place of Bundagen and Third Headlands to the south of the Harbour.

There have been quality snapper around most island washes early and late in the day. Floating pilchard baits seem to be accounting for most of the bigger fish with South Solitary, Spilt Solitary and Pig Island all producing snapper to 4kg and tailor and kingfish to 2kg in close.

This month the mackerel should start to bite closer to shore with Macauleys Headland and the Park Beach Bommie producing fish for small-boat anglers like me.

Anglers fishing wider offshore have reported plenty of 2kg mahi mahi from around the trap floats. The run of marlin off Coffs has been inconsistent with smaller blacks, stripes and sailfish being found just wide of South Solitary Island and the much bigger blue marlin encountered from the continental shelf and further east.

To make up for the lack of billfish there have been plenty of small wahoo taking lures with the average fish at around 8kg to 10kg. Anglers livebaiting and jigging the deeper reefs have been hooking jewfish, kingfish and samson fish to 15kg.

Longtail tuna and Spanish mackerel will be caught from the rocks this season and Mutton Bird Island and the Quarry will be the backdrops for some exciting LBG action. Catching bait will be the problem for most anglers on the stones.

My tip to avoid disappointment is to catch yellowtail around the harbour wharfs and carry them onto the rocks. Alternately, you could take your chances on the ledges. Live tailor and pike are great mackerel baits and can be caught from most LBG platforms that have a bit of wash nearby.


In the creeks there have been some mighty big mangrove jacks on the prowl. Last week and we managed to land five jacks to 55cm with the smallest fish a solid 45cm. The jacks are most active when there’s some water movement and the run-out tide seems to be the best time to target snags with lures and bait.

There has been a real lack of trevally in the estuaries this Summer, although Autumn should see some GTs to 60cm smash unsuspecting bream/bass/flathead spinners in the Kalang and Bellinger systems.

There have been some good lizards poking around the downstream stretches of the Bellinger, Kalang and Nambucca rivers. Large soft plastic shads seem to be doing the job around the edges of weed beds.

There have been plenty of reports of really big whiting being caught at the entrances to various creeks with Bonville, Boambee, Coffs and Corindi creek mouths being the best spots. Best baits seem to be beach worms or nippers.

Bonville Creek has also had its fair share of school jew and jacks with anglers livebaiting at night near the rail bridge doing well.

Over the next month I'll be exclusively focusing my efforts on tuna and mackerel from the rocks and my boat. From the rocks I'll mainly use live garfish baits and from the boat I'll slowly troll live slimy mackerel.

If I go estuary fishing it will be for mangrove jacks and I'll have some fun with bass once the sun starts to set.



The author with a solid 40cm Bellinger River bass. They’re biting freely, especially around sundown.


The Coffs area jacks have been hungry and cranky. This 45cm fish was the smallest from a recent outing when the best was 55cm.


Andrew Bolton with a 42cm jack from a creek near Coffs.

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