Take a little getaway over winter
  |  First Published: June 2016

June is officially the beginning of winter, but in Coffs it rarely signifies a dramatic change in weather. The cool nights and mild days of autumn typically continue into the middle of winter, but this year feels like we may get a little more chilly weather than usual. I can’t say I’m complaining.

As soon as we get those first frosty nights, my thoughts turn to campfires, warm sleeping bags and crisp mornings fishing the creek or beach next to camp. There’s something about that sharp chill in the air that stirs the desire within to get out and away from the busy life. Fortunately here on the Coffs Coast we are blessed with plenty of great locations well within reach for a quick overnight getaway.

Beach getaway

Within an hour or so north or south of Coffs Harbour, there are several great camping locations right on the beach and away from the city centres. Station Creek, Sandon and Minnie Water are available to the north; Hungry Head, Scotts Head and Hat Head to the south. Not all of these campsites support my vision of campfire camping, as some are formal campsites with finer facilities, but all offer the chance of a getaway right next to great coastal fishing. Throughout this area in June we should see numbers of tailor and larger mulloway on the increase, both on the beaches and around the headland washes. In the beach gutters fish strips, pilchards or whitebait to target tailor, unless the diving birds give away the location of a baitfish ball under attack. In this case a metal slug of almost any kind will usually suffice.

Squid strips are my favourite off the beach bait for mulloway, but nothing says beach fishing and camping trip like fresh, self caught, beach worms. They’re one of the best possible baits off the beach for most species and it gives you something to do during the low tide.

Estuary Getaway

Only a short distance either side of Coffs are several great options for a riverside getaway. Only 20 minutes away the Mylestom and Urunga camp grounds give great access to the Bellinger and Kalang rivers. There are several camping locations around Wooli to the north, and to the south there are a selection of camping locations around Werrell Creek in the Nambucca system. Werrell Creek offers the best chance of a proper simple campfire camping getaway, but all of these locations should offer some excellent fishing this month.

The bream fishing has been heating up as it’s been cooling down. As the summer of frenetic flathead and whiting fishing begins to wane, the finesse has to come back into the game for the winter bream. A little slower and deeper on the lures will land you plenty of bream through the winter. The bream are a little less focussed on the running prawns, and more focussed on baitfish and shrimp. They will favour upstream snags and structure, and the weed beds and rock walls in the lower end. If fishing with baits you still can’t beat the humble yabby, and once again, nothing says an estuary camping trip like pumping yabbies in the arvo, especially if it’s with the kids.

Inland Getaway

One great feature of the Coffs Coast is that you don’t have to drive far inland to experience dramatically different landscapes. The top of the dividing range is only a couple of hours away, the other side of which offers the opportunity to fish for Murray cod and yellowbelly. There are totally different climate and landscapes there as well that differ to the coastline. Imagine the fire crackling next to the swags, and the sound of the flowing river and insects only interrupted by the odd boof of a cod hook-up.

There are a plethora of great locations on many of the western flowing rivers and impoundments within a few hours of Coffs Harbour. Your best bet is to do some research on the web and check out Google Earth to find a suitable location for the fishing you’re after, whether it be dam or river fishing.

Climate Getaway

Over the last month we have turned the corner when it comes to the weather. Not only does the air have a wintery feel to it, but the climate situation is destined for change this winter too. The weather over this last year has been dominated by one of the strongest El Nino events in recorded history. The resulting conditions has meant that for the last 12 months we have only had around half of our average annual rainfall and the coastal waters have been several degrees above average over summer.

Because of this the fishing has been affected in different ways. The trout fishing has suffered greatly, but the offshore fishing has been very consistent. No matter whether your favoured fishing targets have excelled or failed this past year, you can’t argue that our area isn’t in great need of some rain. Finally now, over the last month or so we have begun to turn a corner. The climate reports and models are all pointing towards the El Nino easing, and a bit more rain is finally on the horizon. We still won’t likely be flooded out during winter, but by the time spring arrives we can look forward to some more water in the rivers for the trout and bass, as well as a return to the normal water temperatures off our coast.

Whether you’re looking forward to a weekend getaway, and afternoon off work or just getting a break from the hot dry weather I hope you find the fishing well this month.

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