Cool days have made fishing along the Coffs Coast a challenge in recent weeks, with southerly and north-westerly winds but you can usually find somewhere along this fish-rich stretch of coast, with beach, rock, offshore and estuary options all available for the versatile angler.
Matt Templeton and I fished offshore for kingfish a few days ago and found that some South Coast hoodlums have made the trip north, scoffing our jumbo slimies and smashing our paltry 15kg tackle with little effort. Matt went out a few days later and again got worked over; the biggest king ate a solid silver trevally before heading for the reef.
We found kings at Macauleys, Bullocky and Pig Island. If you're after smaller fare and some sport on light tackle, the inshore waters are for you with a stack of just-legal kings, bonito, frigates and mackerel tuna over most shallow reefs, bommies and islands.
The kings are pretty keen on small pencil poppers, while the tuna are eating 3cm long baitfish and respond to 20g metals or soft plastic lures.
Inshore snapper-lurers have been catching plenty of fish in water from 4m to 15m with fish to 9kg responding to soft plastics. Reefs such as the Park Beach Bommie, Whitmores, Bundagen and Third Headland, near Urunga, have been the pick of the spots.
A good berley trail, 6” plastics and 1/2oz or 3/8oz jig heads have been catching the best fish. Those fishing with bait haven't missed out with plenty of smaller fish falling for squid, pillies and tuna fillets in the deeper water on dropper rigs.
On calm, current-free days, soft-plastics fishos have been able to get out and work the deeper reefs and have found that pearl perch and teraglin also hit soft plastics with gusto.
Now is the time that school jew can be found along all the beaches, taking fresh worm, squid and fillet baits once the sun sets. When fishing with bait for jew we normally start just before dark and try to work through a tide change, with high tide the better producer.
Swell of about 1.5m and the dark of the moon are optimum and beaches with decent gutter formations produce the best fish. On the deeper beaches that have no gutters or sand bars, the best action can be found in the rips where the water leaves the beach.
Beaches with good gutters include Woolgoolga (Back Beach), Boambee, Sapphire and North Beach. Deeper beaches include Hills, Campbells and parts of Sapphire and Korora Bay.
All beaches and headlands have been producing tailor to 2kg on lures and bait, as well as great catches of ocean-run bream.
Headlands with estuaries nearby tend to be the best bream producers. Headlands worth trying for bream include Moonee, Boambee, Sawtell and Red Rock; best baits for bream are cut mullet or tuna fillets.
Bream like a bait that is cut long and thin, with plenty of tail hanging off the hook. A long, light 4kg trace, a swivel and ball sinker complete the rigging.
My son Kurt and I fished the Nambucca River and found that some very big bream have taken up position on many of the leases and wooden structures that litter the eastern side of the river.
We fished 3” soft plastics deep and slowly and found that big silver bream to 35cm took a real interest in our lures. In a couple of hours of fishing we landed 15 legal bream and got our arms well and truly stretched trying to get them out of structure.
In the brackish and freshwater, the fishing has been pretty slow in recent weeks with anglers finding it very hard to interest bass or bream in any sort of numbers.
At present most of the better fishing is near the mouths of rivers with luderick, bream, flathead, jewfish and some big whiting keeping the bait-fishing fraternity occupied.
Over the coming month I'll target jew on lures from the rocks, jew on bait from the beach and bream in the rivers.
With their aroma and juices, cut baits work well in the cooler months for jewfish, snapper and bream.
Now is the time that school jew can be found along all the beaches, with fish taking fresh worm, squid and fillet baits once the sun sets.
Cuttlefish is a great winter jew bait from the beach.
Another school jew for Matt Templeton.
Big bass like this 51cm fish are still around if you're prepared to fish at night with surface lures.Reads: 822