Changeable currents have kept offshore anglers guessing in recent weeks with mackerel here one day and gone the next.
Mid-week anglers seem to be the ones getting the best fish with the weekend warriors like me encountering cooler water and southerly swells. Dale Graham, Chris Webb and I fished last weekend and came home with kingfish to 8kg and tailor to 3kg, all of which took trolled slimy mackerel baits.
If you can find bait and warm water there have been plenty of spotted mackerel and some Spanish mackerel to be found, with Bundagen to the south and Moonee to the north being the pick spots.
Anglers trolling high-speed lures wide of South Solitary Island and around the wave recorder have been getting consistent catches of small wahoo, yellowfin tuna, striped tuna and mahi mahi. There are reports of yellowfin to 10kg shadowing the inshore slimy mackerel schools, with anglers trolling slimies in search of mackerel getting some hard-pulling yellowfin tuna.
Nearly all the inshore islands have kingfish and tailor patrolling the washes, with lures and livebaits being rewarded with exciting hook-ups in tiger country. At this time of the year it pays to use wire at all times because tailor are at the top of the menu for Spanish mackerel and these massive ocean pelagics will happily hunt in whitewater and around the edges of breaking bommies.
The mackerel reefs will also produce great action on jewfish and snapper. Anglers prepared to set a livebait near the bottom will secure some great hook-ups on big jewfish, snapper and hoodlum kingfish.
With southerly blows wiping out most of the weekend offshore fishing opportunities, many versatile fishos have turned their attention to the creeks and rivers and have found that flathead have been taking whitebait and soft plastics at Mylestom, Bonville and Coffs Creek.
Whiting anglers have been getting good fish to 600g on nippers and small soft plastics at Corindi and Moonee creeks.
The great run of mangrove jacks has continued with fish to 55cm taking livebaits and lures in the brackish ends of nearly all the smaller creeks and rivers. Anglers livebaiting around the breakwalls at Urunga and Coffs have been wiped out by the huge mangrove jacks that seem to congregate around these areas during southerly blows.
Bass and bream have been taking poppers and plastics around the lily beds, with the waterways down near Macksville and Taylors Arm being the pick spots. Autumn is the best time to be target trevally on lures, with the Kalang River and Bonville Creek being two of the most consistent places.
Land-based game anglers have been hooking longtail tuna daily with fish from 14kg to 20kg taking live yellowtail, garfish and slimy mackerel baits along the edges of the headland and breakwall washes. The pick of the spots has been Mutton Bird Island, with light southerlies providing perfect fishing conditions for those trying to drift a bait seaward.
Tuna have also been smashing into garfish schools near the South Wall and Quarry with livebaits and poppers the best techniques for getting tuna feeding close to shore. As yet, no mackerel have hit the stones and, as is often the case, it will take a single-minded approach using live tailor or pike to get some interest from a big Spaniard.
Rockhoppers chasing tailor have also been having success with lures and ganged pillies, raising some big choppers to 3kg. The South Wall and the rocks at Corindi and Station Creek are the pick of the tailor possies with early morning and late afternoon the best times.
Land-based jewfish anglers have caught fish to 8kg from the beaches at Sapphire and Korora with some bigger specimens landed near the mouth of the Bellinger/Kalang rivers at Mylestom. If you are chasing big jew after dark you can't go past big slabs of tailor or mullet for bait. Beach worms are also great bait, particularly for school jew and during daylight tide changes.
Over the next month I'll continue to chase pelagics from my boat and the rocks and on the days when the seas are too big I'll head up-river in search of jacks, trevally, bream and bass.
Mangrove jacks have still been biting in the creeks surrounding Coffs.
Bream are starting to school up in the estuaries and some good catches can be made over the next month or so.
Autumn is trevally time in the estuaries as these tropical speedsters put on condition for the cooler times ahead.Reads: 1197