Raining on our pelagic parade
  |  First Published: March 2015

Marlin to the north of us, marlin to the south of us, but in the middle it’s still not really happening. I’ve gotta say, this is sounding like a broken record! As game fishing seasons go, I’d rate what we’ve experienced so far here on the Coffs coast as just okay, but certainly nothing to write home about.

It definitely looked promising over early summer, with some sly early Spanish mackerel turning up to make the live baiting effort worthwhile, and a couple being caught on stickbaits. There was a few scattered blacks about in close, and bait was reasonably easy to come by.

Then the Coffs region got smashed a couple of times in quick succession at the start of February by heavy rain (200mm in 48 hours in town, and somewhat heavier elsewhere). This understandably pushed a lot of unappetising mucky brown water well offshore. This can be okay for some species, but the mackerel and little blacks aren’t terribly fussed about it.

As an inveterate rain gauge watcher, last season we had no substantial weather events producing heavy rainfall at all, and the mackerel were booming from January through to June. This year, my gauge recorded 520mm for January alone, as opposed to 103 and 145mm for January and February last year. Fortunately, a succession of southerlies that has made offshore fishing difficult will clear the water up a lot faster than an endless succession of nor’ easters. Provided we don’t get any more rain of course…

The blacks that have been caught are an interesting mix of sizes: some as small as 15kg, and others ranging up to 90. Rachel Terrassom aboard the newly re-fitted Hoo Kares caught her first little black during summer, then high-graded with a substantially better one of 90kg a couple of weeks later. These were interspersed with some nice mahimahi.

Out on the shelf, there’s the occasional blue marlin being caught, but the current is still trucking south at 3-4 knots, which makes holding your trolling run over a canyon or other offshore feature hard to achieve. It doesn’t encourage the bait to stack up either. Working the shelf edge and ducking in and out of the slack water has proven productive for some.

There are still quality mahimahi out there though, at the FAD, the Wave Recorder, and roaming about in the open. As always, they lessen the blow of a marlin-less day when you have some prime table fish to show at the end of it.

We can anticipate the current easing as we get into March, which is often the best time for blue marlin action along the Coffs coast anyway. This is why the Solitary Islands Game Fishing Club will be hosting its fifth Heavy Tackle Challenge on March 28-29. Details are available from the club’s website at: www.solitaryislandsgamefishingclub.com or contact President James McGinty on (0418) 969 798 for further information.

Compounding local anglers’ frustration with bad weather and fickle fish, the Coffs Harbour City Council demonstrated an incredible lack of foresight once again in not removing the sand buildup at the ramp in advance of the Australia Day long weekend. Having the excavator start work on the Saturday morning is simply not good enough. Even by Sunday the entrance was still so shallow that boats were bumping the bottom on low tide.

Work on the new basin adjacent to the ramp should be well underway by now — even at this council’s glacier-like pace of doing things — so it will be interesting to see whether the $1,000,000 it has cost has been well spent or not.


Rachel Terrassom gives her second black marlin a pat. It was caught just over the shelf, a bit wider of where they are usually found.


Mahimahi are still about in numbers. Jarred Flynn with a 16kg cow.

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