Coffs comes to life
  |  First Published: September 2015

September 2015 will once again see the World Rally Championship arrive on the Coffs Coast along with hoards of rally team members, staff, volunteers and spectators. Therefore I’ll direct this month’s report in two directions: something for the locals and something for the visitors.

For locals it’s a good idea to get some fishing done in the first half of the month before the crowds arrive. The bass season is open again and this month is the best opportunity to get at the them while they’re still down in the brackish water with the bream and mulloway. They won’t really be fired up on surface feeding yet, so deeper reaction baits like spinnerbaits, vibes and larger hardbodies will be the best bet around the structure. One subtle difference in bass fishing down in the tidal reaches is that the bass tend to school up and move around a little more than they do higher up in the fresh where they can be found in the same locations day in day out. Look for the eddies behind bridge pylons and snags, as well as curtains formed by two currents colliding. If they are there one day during the run out they may be somewhere very different on the run in. There have been good schools of mulloway in similar locations throughout the entire length of our estuaries. Soft plastics with a lot of movement or vibration lures have done the most damage but they are more than likely by-catch on anything you might throw for bass too.

For visitors the bass fishing in the area is a fantastic way to see some of the hinterland that the world rally cars will be hurtling through. Almost any freshwater river you cross in the valleys west of the Coffs Coast will hold bass. Many can be accessed on foot, or in a kayak, from road bridges and public areas. Google Maps would be your best friend for finding somewhere to explore. Bellinger, Nambucca and Orara River valleys contain hundreds of kilometers of quality bass water.

The Bellinger and Nambucca River estuaries have also been very productive of late. Bream along the walls and oyster leases have been responding well to hardbody lures and soft vibes. Flathead have been fairly prolific in the same areas but mostly are on the smaller side. The smaller estuaries closer to town have been very clear, so with a bit of boat traffic and fish already skittish it’s been finesse that wins the day here. Light leaders and careful movement will help you in these creeks where there’s plenty of good bream and flathead as long as you can avoid spooking them. The whiting will become more active in the estuaries during these months. If you’re drifting a yabby around the sand banks you should be able to pick up a feed.

Offshore the snapper are still very active in close. Soft plastics, vibes and slow jigs have been accounting for many fish, but in the cool, clear water light leader has been the key to larger fish. Floatlining a pilchard down a berley trail has resulted in good reds in the shallow water. Any of the inshore reefs are holding good snapper, Bundagen, The Patches and around Split have been the most popular. Slow jigging has also been working well on the kingfish out on the deeper reefs, as well as sinking stick baits and hardbodies around the washes. The schools of rats have been less dominant recently with some good fish up to 1m being caught.

Around the headlands and beaches we are still seeing plenty of mulloway. Throwing hardbody lures has been increasing in popularity lately and this technique has been responsible for many of the better fish in the area. As I mentioned last month, the key is getting lures into the right areas, which also happen to be the most snaggy areas. Using large lures that only dive just under the surface and have a high buoyancy will help and so do cheap lures. It’s well worth paying the $25+ for some of the high quality hand made mulloway lures but it’s also worth having a few in the box that you don’t mind losing, something you can chuck right into those crevasses without worrying too much about losing it. That’s where the fish have been recently, especially when the water is clear and there isn’t a lot of wave action for cover. If throwing lures isn’t your thing a good slab or squid bait has been the most successful bait recently for the mulloway anglers.

Whether local or visitor, there should be plenty on offer around the Coffs Coast this month. If you’re struggling for ideas jump in to the local tackle store and ask what’s about.

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