The Coffs region has finally experienced some winter weather along with the rest of Australia, and the water temperatures have slowly dropped to turn on the winter fishing.
There have been a lot of squid readily available around many of the headlands in recent weeks. If you can put in the effort to catch yourself some, you will have yourself one tastiest meals you can have from the sea, or one of the best possible baits that you could use off the beach. Squid is probably the easiest bait to handle and fish with, as well as being one of the most effective mulloway baits there is.
Most recent mulloway catches have been schoolies between the 3-10kg mark but there have been some very large fish around as well. Once again, the Mulloway Research Angler Program has continued to reveal some of the inside secrets of the species and has made for interesting reading. One of the stand-out points so far has been the difference between the ages of fish at similar sizes. Sometimes there can be nearly 20 years difference between fish of similar sizes.
Don’t forget that if you are catching and keeping mulloway this winter you can help the project by donating mulloway frames. Fishing Tackle Australia is the local drop-off point for this area, and you can enquire there or check out www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fisheries/recreational/researchangler for more information on the program and how to win the monthly prize pack.
Squid off the beaches this month will also attract bream, as well as the odd tailor and salmon although pilchards, strip baits and lures are probably the better way to target the latter two in the gutters. Mulloway, salmon and tailor will also be regular catches off any of the local headlands and break walls this month.
During the low swell we have experienced recently it has been necessary to search for a bit of white wash to increase your chances of catching a good fish. Calm conditions leads to wary fish hunting out a bit of cover before they will confidently take a lure or bait. During rough periods with lots of white water cover it’s a matter of hunting out the calmer water that is still under the cover of a bit of wash or foam.
Offshore the focus has certainly shifted towards snapper, pearl perch and kingfish and away from the summer season fish. There is still the faint hope of latching onto lingering summer species like mackerel or tuna but I wouldn’t suggest keeping the wire on just for that chance.
There has been plenty of bait around, especially pilchards, and these hapless little fish have no shortage of harassers. Kingfish, snapper, pearl perch, tailor and salmon can all be found in, around and under these schools. A live bait trolled around the edges or a lure dropped down through one of these schools is very likely to be picked up by one of these predators. Trolled hardbodies and fast retrieved metals or jigs are also a likely to score on the kingfish, tailor and salmon from around the bait schools.
Around the islands there have been good size kingfish and cobia patrolling the washes. Slow trolling or drifting a good size live bait around these areas has led to some good size fish and is the most likely way to latch onto a larger specimen. Soft plastics, hardbody lures and jigs are all catching fish around the islands but the captures have been dominated by small to medium sized kingfish, amberjack and samsonfish.
Around the deeper reefs further offshore the jigs have resulted in larger fish more often, but a good live bait dropped into the zone is still the best bet for a larger specimen.
The local estuaries have been very clear so to find fish you need to find good structure, with bigger fish being quite wary of the conditions. Flathead and whiting are still being found regularly. Most are not significant in size but they are still worth a catch. The bream are hiding themselves up the back ends of the estuaries in the mangroves, oyster racks and snags.
Once the cold hits on the Coffs Coast it can be tough finding targets that are willing, but with the cold finally here after a long summer it’s time to switch on winter mode and chase a good beach gutter mulloway, a hefty upstream bream or a cracking nearshore red. Whatever you target this month I hope you set a few hooks wherever you are.Reads: 727