Hoping for a spring bite
  |  First Published: October 2014

It seems miles off at this stage, but some seriously encouraging numbers of juvenile black marlin being tagged in northern Queensland (150 plus in one tournament alone) suggests we might have a boomer black season here this coming summer. Of course, this is dependent on suitable current, bait, wind, rain (or lack thereof), and a number of other factors — like a useable boat ramp. Meanwhile, winter continues to linger here, with some welcome precipitation turning up to give the creeks a decent flush out in August — the best drop since March in fact.

The currents along the shelf have been all over the place, running uphill one day, then south, then nothing at all, which for those who have ventured out has made it hard to formulate a workable game plan. The slack water has produced a couple of 30-35kg yellowfin tuna for those intrepid souls who have gone wide though. With spring just around the corner, expect more people to throw off the doona early and get up for a bluewater fish as the weather warms.

The long anticipated winter striped marlin bite failed to eventuate again, but it may yet happen in spring. This has been especially frustrating when the Gold Coast has enjoyed steady marlin fishing right through winter — blues, stripes and even the odd black.

Remarkably, the mahi mahi are still holding on the waver recorder buoy directly out the front of Coffs. Numbers have thinned out and the remaining few are getting a bit doughy about lures (and excessive boat traffic), although live bait still works.

While blue, the water temperature had dropped to 18°C on our last visit, which will hopefully kick our lamentable snapper season into gear at last.

It’s just a shame that the FAD gets yanked out of the water during winter each year for periodic maintenance or whatever, because it would certainly help share the traffic around when the leatherjacket horde is making bottom fishing an exercise in frustration on the deeper reefs. It’s nice to be able to put a few fillets in the fridge without throwing away $100 of terminal tackle in order to do so!

I’ve written in the past about how unusual it is to have the mahi mahi loitering this late in the season, but on second thoughts maybe it’s not so odd after all. With the same species shadowing the southern bluefin schools through SA and into western Victoria in water as cool as 16.5°C, they’ve obviously got a greater temperature tolerance than what we give them credit for. Still, I’d rather be catching them in shorts and T-shirt weather…

Interestingly, the local winter fish have nearly all been females, with one we caught in late August even in roe.


Well the Coffs Harbour slipway as we knew it is no more. After a couple of temporary lifelines to get the backlog of boats slipped and shipshape, it has finally shut its doors and we are now left with no haul-out options and no prospect of a new facility for a couple of years at least – if at all.

With all the boats gone, the dimensions of the site can really be grasped. It’s huge – and way too good a piece of prime waterfront real estate to be wasted by the inconvenience of a slipway…

This whole sorry saga has been ill considered from the get-go, and the boating public and a working port have been royally shafted by Crown Lands and the EPA.

Heaven help Coffs if there’s an emergency with a boat in danger of sinking. The skipper might just have to run it up on the sand at Jetty Beach just like the old days and let the EPA deal with the fallout, of which there will be plenty.

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