Last weekend I chased jewfish with soft plastics around the headlands to the north of Coffs and although there were some willing tailor and salmon, we were unable to find the jew.
When flicking plastics for jew around the rocky outcrops you need to look for areas where whitewater, some clear water and a sandy bottom meet. While jew will hold over weed or rock, they are particularly fond of stirred-up and sandy spots on the outer and inner edges of rocky outcrops within casting distance of beaches and headlands.
The classic deep LBG ledges that look so appealing for lure tossing and live baiting are not what you need for jew on plastics. Broken and disjointed headlands that for years we gave a wide birth to are now looking much more appealing. Their gutters and scattered outcrops create perfect daytime homes for jew that move inshore to feed and hold up.
At nightfall we change our jewfish tactics, going for the tried and true bait fishing methods on the dark of moon and high tide with tailor, mullet or tuna fillets.
For smaller jew around the headlands, we look for onshore and stirred-up conditions and fish around the creek mouths on the run-out tides with beach worms. Most of the southern corners of the Coffs beaches have small creeks that meet the ocean and these are the areas worth visiting around nightfall.
Sawtell Headland is an excellent location for school jew over the Summer, with the first three hours of the run-out tide at the mouth of Bonville Creek the best for chasing school jew, tailor and bream.
I also recently had a seven hour canoe paddle on a local river with two other canoes and, apart from great scenery, mateship and weather, it was not the perfect day, with only 12 bass falling to the five anglers. With ultra-clear water, most fish were holding hard under structure and were interested in biting only when long, accurate casts with soft plastics landed on their nose.
By the time you read this report the cicada activity should have increased and bass will be more active, hitting surface chuggers and fizzers during low-light periods. If you're chasing bass you can try Taylors Arm, Warrell Creek and the Upper Kalang, Bellinger, Orara, Coldstream and Clarence rivers.
Mangrove jacks have finally returned to our local creeks, big and small, with fish to 55cm and about 3kg hitting lures. Last jack season was good, with the fish really coming onto the bite during late December and early January.
Trevally, including GTs, big-eye and the blue-spot varieties, will also bite during December, with small hard-bodied lures and metals the most consistent fish-takers. Trevally bite well around the road and rail bridges on the Bellinger and Kalang rivers, with the rail bridge on Bonville Creek also a hot spot.
On the beaches whiting, dart and bream are still biting, with pipis, beach worms and nippers catching plenty of fish at Boambee, Bonville, Mylestrom and Woolgoolga beaches.
There are some big tailor to be found around the headlands at the moment, with 1.5kg to 2.5kg greenbacks hiding in the washes at Station Creek and Woolgoolga Headland. To interest big tailor, try throwing large pencil poppers or lightly weighted 6” soft plastics on 3/8oz jig heads.
If you're after smaller tailor in greater numbers and less challenging conditions, try casting ganged pilchards at Mutton Bird Island and the Quarry/Southern Breakwall.
Offshore, snapper having been hitting plastics on the inner reefs at Moonee, Korora, Macauleys, Bullocky, Whitmores and Third Headland. Wider offshore in water from 50m to 70m, there have been good kingfish, samson, teraglin, pearl perch and tusk fish.
Gamefishers have been hooking blue marlin and yellowfin tuna out near the continental shelf and the Solitary Islands have been home to some big kings and jumbo tailor.
Over the next month I'll be targeting jacks, jew and bass. If you're heading to the North Coast don't forget to have a look at my new DVD One Perfect Day, it will give you plenty of ideas on how to target bass in this fish-rich region. There is also a little piece of jewfish action from the rocks on lures in the trailers. If you want a copy ask your local tackle store, or email me at my address above.
This is prime time for bream on poppers so get out there and start casting.
Bass are also looking up for a feed at this time of year, as Peter Lenard found out.
Like southern tourists having too good a time, salmon around Coffs just don’t want to go home.Reads: 1901