I believe Coffs is a world class destination, with world class fishing, world class beaches and a world class hinterland. This month will see the attractions of the Coffs Coast displayed for all to see on a world stage when we host Round 10 of the FIA World Rally Championship for 2014.
One of the great things I love about the WRC round in Coffs is that it draws the world’s attention to the hinterland of our Coffs Coast. The hinterland behind Coffs is probably my favourite part of this area, with amazing rivers, canyons, rainforest and of course fishing. It just so happens that the rally will be racing in, around and through some of the best bass fishing locations in the country.
If you’re visiting the area, or you’re a local who doesn’t normally venture out of town, use the rally as the impetus to explore the hinterland and find new waters to fish. I won’t give away any secret spots but if you’re out watching a stage, any freshwater rivers, creeks or streams will host bass. The further from civilisation the spot is, the better the fishing should be – so pick one you think looks good and explore away. Just remember to ask permission when accessing private property, and remember that land owners are away from town for a reason.
This month the bass will be heading back up the river from their winter spawning in the brackish water. There will be a number of good fish high up in the topwaters but the best fishing will be for whichever angler can find the bulk of the population. Here they will be competing for food and will be far more keen to participate in your angling activities. This location will likely be below the first few rapids until we get some decent rain for the bass to surge upwards.
Head east from Coffs Harbour and you’ll be in some of the best offshore waters on the east coast. Known for its diversity of temperate and tropical fish, the Coffs Coast is where the warm waters of the East Australian Current meet and mix with the colder southern waters. Snapper, pearl perch, kingfish, samsonfish, tuna, marlin, mahi mahi, cobia, mackerel and mulloway are all caught in the area but at this time of the year it’s the snapper fishing that is the feature offshore.
It was a slow start to the snapper this year, but this was most likely because of the abundant presence of mackerel right into winter, rather than the lack of snapper. Anglers have been slow to target snapper but throughout the last few months the snapper have been there for the catching on the inshore reefs, and that will likely continue this month. Anywhere from the headlands, onshore reefs and out to the islands and deeper reefs will be holding plenty of snapper keen to get a feed (and possibly be a feed).
Soft plastics, slow jigs and micro jigs are all producing good results this year and are especially effective when you’re trying to cover ground searching for the larger fish. If stationary fishing is more your thing, a good consistent berley and floating unweighted baits down with it is probably the way to go.
Elsewhere offshore the kingfish have been on the bite but few anglers have found the bigger fish. Rat kings, or a fish just above ‘rat’ size, have been the dominant capture for many anglers.
On the beaches there have been good numbers of smaller mulloway as well as some large specimens. The big fish have been caught by those anglers who put in the yards to get away from often fished stretches, and put in the time to capture the once-in-a-lifetime kind of fish. Fishing with whole squid is your best chance at a good mulloway but a slab bait will work well, although it often results in more shark bycatch.
Good size bream, tailor and salmon are also very likely off the beaches at present. Many of the beaches have very well-defined gutters from repeated large swell events so it can be quite easy picking your locations.
In the rivers the water has mostly been very clear which has made fishing low down in the estuaries quite tough. Finesse fishing is best in this situation. Light lines and leader, little weight and inconspicuous lures or baits are the go too when the water is clear.
Small, light lures fished slow with plenty of long pauses have worked well for anglers luring for bream and flathead. If you’re using bait, unweighted or lightly weighted live yabbies are pretty hard to beat although the big fish will likely come between a lot of undersized fish.
Flathead have been willing to participate, and with swarms of small whitebait in the estuaries it’s pretty easy to choose what lures to use. Skinny baitfish profiles will work well for all estuary species this month.
If you’re visiting from around the state, country or even from overseas, I hope you enjoy your stay and manage to see more of the Coffs Coast than just the speeding cars and dusty rally trails. For the locals I say use the rally as an excuse to explore our area. No matter how long you’ve lived here there will still be part of our region you haven’t fished yet. Enjoy the exploration!Reads: 735