Come and tangle with a toothy mackerel
  |  First Published: April 2016

Normally in this issue of NSWFM we’d be talking about the Easter weekend of fishing and the local Easter Classic, but this year it’s all over and done with by the start of April! The holidays are still on their way though, so many of you reading this may be from out of town looking for the inside info on what’s likely to be swimming around the Coffs Coast at the moment.

Those visiting from further south will surely be looking to tangle with a toothy mackerel, which are normally missing from more southern waters at this time. The good news is that mackerel season is still in the swing of things, although the mackerel have become a little more patchy than they were the start of the year. This is possibly due to the super warm water of the East Australian Current flowing all the way down to Sydney, so the mackerel are likely to be spread further south than normal.

For the second year in a row we have seen mackerel showing up in Sydney, well beyond their normal range. There has been patchy water along the coast with quite green water in close, but this is not the determining factor of where you’ll find the mackerel. The most important thing is to find the bait. Dirty water or cobalt blue, the mackerel will be there if the bait is there. Out wide the current has been running at a great rate of knots, so to hold bait an area needs to have some serious underwater topography to provide adequate protection from the current for fish to hold their ground.

Over the last month there have been days the current has seemed to almost strip some reefs of any sign of bait. In this situation if you look for the eddies behind drop-offs on the southern sides of reef systems you should find the fish. Mackerel, marlin and longtail tuna are all going to be somewhere in the vicinity if the bait is there. Throwing stickbaits, both floating and sinking, is fast becoming a favourite technique for targeting mackerel. It’s a hard technique to commit to if you don’t know the fish are there, but once you get that first, often airborne, strike it has to be one of the most exciting forms of fishing there is. Think GT popping but with the strikes happening at 100km/h and continuing several metres into the air, sometimes followed by the blistering run of a mackerel. The hook-up rate is well below 100%, but that just means more strikes you get to witness. Trolling hardbodies is still a staple for the mackerel, but slow trolling live baits has been more effective recently.

In the estuaries the surface bite is likely to slow down a little as the cooler season progresses. It hasn’t been a massive cicada year but the bream have responded well to the surface walkers and poppers all year. This month sub-surface lures are likely to produce better results. Cranka Crabs and Ecogear Bream Prawns have been producing many fish around the oyster leases and snags.

At the other end of the rivers in the freshwater, anglers are making the most of the last month of the bass season. After the end of April the bass will start heading to their spawning grounds in the brackish reaches of our rivers and creeks. Officially it is a ‘no take’ season rather than a full closed season so the regulations do not prevent you fishing for bass. However, most anglers decide to leave them alone for the winter months to ensure the bass are able to go about their ‘business’ in freedom.

Coffs Coast Fly Fishing Club is born

On an aspect that covers our entire area, a new club was formed in February that aims to provide a meeting place for all fly anglers, or anyone else interested in fly fishing, in our region. Whether you like flying for trout up on the tablelands, bass in the coastal creeks, waving the wand in the estuaries, or flogging the brine for mackerel and marlin offshore, if you’re chasing fish on fly then Coffs Coast Fly Fishing Club aims to provide a fun, friendly and non-competitive place to share knowledge, skills and of course the odd story.

The group will be meeting on the third Monday each month (except December) and will be organising regular fly tying nights and group outings. There will be chances to improve your casting, as well as other skills involved in the sport. For more info you can email --e-mail address hidden-- or jump onto their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/coffscoastflyfishing to see what they’re up to next.

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