The depths of winter on the Coffs Coast means shallow water snapper, big blue nose bream, silver slab mulloway and XOS kingfish!
The Coffs Coast bream have been in typical winter form. Good bream are being caught throughout the lower estuaries and right up into the brackish water. The best opportunities for big fish though are closer to the estuary mouths as spawning fish return from their oceanic escapades.
The rock walls and oyster racks in the larger systems have been producing some very good fish, with good numbers being caught too. This time of year, it’s best to use the lightest leader you feel you can get away with. Keep your lure movements slow and subtle. Soft plastics with plenty of scent that are worked very slow or almost still on the bottom have been producing very well this last month.
The beach gutters are also full of sea run bream. Pipis and worms are always a ‘go to’ bait for the bream on the beach, but with tailor and the odd salmon school around, using bait strips or pilchard cubes will keep the possibilities open. Areas where the gutters cut right in close to the beach, or close by rocky structure are also a great opportunity to flick plastics and vibes around to try and find the bigger models.
Using lures will catch you less dart and small pickers if you’re trying to avoid them, and there’s always the chance of a tailor, salmon or mulloway.
On the beaches, there is more than a chance of some decent mulloway. Slab baits, worms and squid have all been producing results. Soft plastics and really big shallow diving hardbodies have been the real performers on the headlands and breakwalls. Just like the bream, the mulloway have also been providing the estuary anglers with plenty of fun and the odd horse slab for a river fish.
The deeper holes around river corners and bridges are the place to target. Try using slowly worked, but constantly moving plastics, hardbodies or vibes. Keep the lure down in their face as long as possible, but keep some kind of action going throughout the retrieve. The ‘big’ river mulloway is a highly coveted capture, and it’s the anglers that put in the time and effort to purely target these silver slabs who will have success.
It used to be the June long weekend, but now it’s August that sounds the arrival of the Dave Irvine Memorial Snapper Classic. Perfectly coinciding with this event, the snapper have been warming up to boiling point over the last month or so. Snapper can be found pretty much anywhere offshore at the moment, but most notably the big reds are hanging around on the very near shore reefs and shallow gravel beds along our coast.
Exceptional fish have been regular captures around the washes and land-based locations, such as Muttonbird Island, although it has been very difficult to get out to Muttonbird with the North Wall re-development occurring over the last couple of months.
As with every year, the strategy for the Snapper Classic will be very dependant on the weather. The bigger boats can go wherever they want, and usually travel a long way north, but the smaller boats require favourable conditions to travel any distance. I fish the Dave Irvine comp out of my kayak, so I am forced to fish locally, but I honestly believe that a lot more boats should commit to a local strategy. Pick a few marks that you know that are within a short distance of the harbour and commit to fishing them very hard, rather than wasting all your time driving miles away chasing ‘easy fishing’.
I guarantee that, barring any major weather event, there will be good snapper on every inshore reef and if you put in the time you can nut out what they’re after and you will get the fish on the mat. Although you can maybe catch more fish on grounds further away, you will have saved all that travel time leaving you able to ‘catch up’ while the others are having to drive home.
As you’re out and around the washes and inshore reefs, you will find that the tailor are there and willing to chew up your plastics and lures. If you like a fresh feed of tailor, there are some big ones around. If you don’t like eating tailor, there are some big kingfish out there that do. There have been some jumbo hoodlums out around the islands and washes and if you want a big king, then you need to use a big bait. Big tailor and salmon are ideal baits that will troll well and stay alive for a long time while you cover the ground.
If you choose to anchor, drifting your live bait out the back in a berley trail should have you come up with something of size.
No matter what winter fare you chase this month, I hope the fishing is hot, even if the temperature’s not.Reads: 455