Holiday time, but the fish are at work
  |  First Published: December 2014

If you’re hoping for some tips on how to get away from the crowds this month, then you’re in, and out, of luck. This issue I’ll be mostly talking about what’s biting and where, as there is a lot of action to direct you to. If you refer back to last month’s issue though, you’ll find a whole host of options that may help you escape the mob during this busy time of year on the Coffs Coast.

All around the Coffs region, the fishing action has been quite hot, and it should continue like this throughout January.

The bass have been very active on surface lures, but remained stubbornly further downstream than normal. Whether they know it’s going to be a dry summer and are avoiding being potentially stranded in the skinny upper tributaries, or they’re simply staying where the food is, there have been bass caught from upper tidal reaches and lower portions of most local river systems. Higher flows from any rain may encourage them to head up, but for the last month it has been the lower portions of freshwater sections that have produced the most fish.

Due to the dry conditions, the brackish water has pushed a long way up most river systems. This means that mangrove jack, trevally, flathead and bream can be caught all the way up to normally freshwater reaches. There’s plenty of whitebait and mullet for food throughout, so any lures imitating these baitfish will work well. Surface lures are successful amongst the snags on trevally and jacks, with soft plastics and hardbodies best on flathead. We’re in the middle of flathead season, so there are some very big girls around, but sometimes it’s a little hard to get past the smaller males. If you’re getting a number of undersize to 40cm flathead in an area, keep persevering, as those males will inevitably be hanging around a larger female.

The bream, too, have been keen on a surface strike, with any small topwater lure doing well when worked slowly with long pauses around structure like mangroves, oyster racks and snags. The opposite technique will work for whiting on almost any sandbank. A fast retrieved popper around the yabby beds on an incoming tide is a great way to get hold of the many 40cm+ models that are about.

The headlands and beaches have experienced plenty of action over the last month. Good numbers of school mulloway and some larger models have been captured off most local headlands. Soft plastics and large hardbody lures are the best way to hunt around for active fish. Large slab baits, squid and live baits are the approach for tempting bigger mulloway in the beach gutters.

The headlands are hosting schools of rat kings, with the odd larger fish venturing in from the islands and deeper reefs to annihilate an unsuspecting angler’s rig. Offshore, these kings have been active in all their normal areas. The islands, inshore reefs and deep reefs have been producing large numbers of rats, but with some very good 80cm-1m+ fish. Stickbaits, soft plastics and jigs have worked well, depending on where you find the fish on the sounder. Live baits will also work when fished around the edges or under the bait schools.

Snapper continue to fire both inshore and out wide. Soft plastics and slow jigging is a great way to cover ground, but with fish spread out a little more, anchoring and setting a berley trail can be the best way of guaranteeing a feed. Pearl perch, mulloway, kingfish and more will also be on the cards with this technique.

Further offshore, there have been numbers of mahimahi not only around the FAD and fish traps, but even venturing into the lighthouse and inner reefs at times. Some yellowfin tuna have been reported on the inshore grounds over the last month too. As the water swaps back and forth from cold and green to warm and blue, we will see these species move away and towards the coast as conditions allow.

Every summer the talk is always about ‘the mackerel’. Are they here yet? When are they coming? After such a long season last year, it feels like they only just left, but this month should see the first of the razor gang arrive. There ought to be a run of small black marlin working down the coast with them too.

Almost all the local and visiting species will be firing this month, so as things heat up I hope you can get in on the action.


Dale Johnson got some quality bycatch on his way to 3rd place in the inaugural Urunga Estuary Sport Fishing Flathead Tournament.


Brett Calnan with the winning flathead of 87cm in the inaugural Urunga Estuary Sport Fishing Flathead Tournament.


Matt ‘Kid Wirrah’ McEwan with a ripper king of 1.2m plus, that he stickbaited up at South Solitary. Mum’s not going to be happy about that shirt though!

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