Steady as she goes this summer
  |  First Published: January 2015

The Coffs Harbour game fishing season continues to meander along, not reaching any great heights so far, but it’s got a fair way to run so it would be foolish to write it off as a dud just yet, especially when the Gold Coast continues to fire.

Out wide, the 3-4kts of current that has been a disappointing feature of summer fishing these past few seasons has certainly made life difficult for the blue marlin chasers. The water colour and temperature is spot-on for blues (and delicious mahimahi bycatch), but it becomes nigh impossible to work any given grounds with the required dedication, as every turn and zig-zag sees you getting pushed southwards. Throw in an uncomfortable afternoon nor’ easter and you can be off Smoky Cape in the blink of an eye!

Best options have been to work the shelf line along the edge of the fast water, or go way wide where possible to the other side of the East Australian Current and fish there. Local charter boat Better Than Vegas has done that a couple of times, with success on blues to 150kg.

The inshore run of smaller blacks is somewhat patchy, with 1 or 2 here and there, but nobody has really connected with the motherload (or if they have, they’re certainly keeping mum about it!). The water in close has turned over a couple of times, which is probably responsible for the presence of a couple of nice striped marlin. These were a bit of a pleasant surprise for anglers who had dropped down in line class to accommodate the smaller blacks. What blacks we are encountering are a mix of sizes from 10-50kg.

We certainly haven’t been seeing masses of midwater bait like they have in South East Queensland, just the occasional good showing here and there. Some days it’s stacked up and loaded with exciting possibilities though, then the next day it’s gone who knows where. It’s really just a matter of fishing as much as possible and hoping to luck onto one of the good days.

After a boomer run of big mahimahi prior to Christmas, these have spread out somewhat. Commercial boats were pulling 100-300kg of fish off the FAD, the Waverider Buoy, trap floats and a couple of sneaky private FADs around Christmas, and that no doubt thinned out fish numbers, but a fresh pulse of water saw bigger ones reappear in mid January.

The exciting news is that a few spotted and Spanish macks have started to appear on reefs to the north of Coffs and down to Grassy Head. There’s been reliable bait jigging on all the known bait grounds for months now, but of course they’ll vanish like smoke once the razor gang arrives in force…

Could we possibly hope for a mackerel bite approaching 2014’s stellar season? Fingers crossed it happens again, because ‘mackerel fever’ is an exciting condition to suffer from around here.

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