Over winter, looking forward to spring
  |  First Published: September 2016

There’s not a lot happening on the Coffs Harbour gamefishing scene, as bluewater attention is diverted towards inshore table species. Cold blowy weather also has motivations low, to punch wide on the off chance of finding some pelagic action.

Remarkably, the water temperature never dropped below 21-23°C, even in the depths of winter. We might still be on track for a cold water hit, come spring, but that’s good for striped marlin to kick off the new season in style.

Local charter boat, Better Than Vegas, has made the occasional sortie beyond the shelf and decked a big mahimahi. They’ve pulled the hooks on a 150kg blue marlin, after a 40 minute fight in winter.

Victorian tackle shop owner and Fishing Edge TV show host, Lee Rayner came up for deep drop broadbill fishing in late July. He marked one fish at the North Canyons, but didn’t get a bite out of it. They pinned him on the second drift, but the braid broke not long after hook-up. This was dreadfully disappointing, but it shows the southern techniques work here too.

Aside from the usual gamefishing rod, reel and terminal tackle maintenance that’s on the cards for most of us, it’s now the ideal time to give the boat a thorough spring clean. It’s amazing how much equipment gets taken on board and is never or only occasionally used. By the end of the season, it really starts to mount up.

Starting in the bow, swap the anchor rope ends around, or remove the anchor and chain then trail it behind the boat for five minutes, to get the twist out. It’s also a good idea to ‘mouse’ the shackle pins with some stainless steel wire so they can’t work loose under pressure. Replace heavy monofilament halyards on the outriggers, if they’ve seen a season or two of duty. Check that the pulleys and clips are rolling and releasing smoothly.

In the cabin, start under the forward bunks. Drag absolutely everything out, and clean, re-pack or discard. Now’s the time to check the expiry date on flares, CO2 cylinders on self-inflating PFDs, and fire extinguisher charges as well. Gradually work your way aft and watch that pile of unnecessary equipment grow and grow!

With all that junk gone — and amazing space left behind — you’ll almost certainly pick up a bit of boat speed as a result. Of course, by the end of the coming season, it will have mysteriously crept back on board. For a few months at least, you’ll be running a much leaner, cleaner boat.

The Coffs Harbour Deep Sea Fishing Club has closed its doors for the last time. The board hasn’t opposed the liquidation and club assets are gradually being sold off. Understandably, there are many angry people around town, who want to know how this situation arose when the club appeared to be saved from closure. Whether we ever get to the bottom of what went wrong with the Deep Sea Club saga remains to be seen.

This resulted in the cancellation of the Coffs Harbour Game Fishing Club’s Hot Currents Tournament for 2016. With no clubhouse or marina berths for the bigger boats, it was going to be difficult to attract sufficient numbers, to make it a viable event – a shame. The switch of dates to the October long weekend promised better weather, solid striped marlin fishing, and a good chance of early blues as well.


Big mahimahi have been available right through winter, in recent years.

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