Coffs’ gamefishers still on ‘Struggle Street’
  |  First Published: December 2016

And still we wait. This has been without a doubt the crumbiest start to a gamefishing season anyone around here can remember. If it hasn’t been the monotonous procession of northeasterlies every couple of days, it’s been the cold, insipid water that has been almost totally devoid of bait and therefore predators.

It was looking very much like this column would consist of creative white space for the designers to play with this month, before the Solitary Islands Game Fishing Club boat, Better Than Vegas, went out and saved the day in late spring. While one swallow certainly doesn’t make a summer, an 80kg striped marlin is a good start. Hopefully it’s the spear tip of a lot more.

With almost zero reports to base a plan of attack on, the anglers pushed well wide on a scouting mission. They found lovely water up to 24°C directly east of Coffs, but it was mostly lifeless. The last roll of the dice was a trip home via the FAD looking for an early mahimahi to save the trip. Better water had pushed inshore during the day and heaps of bait began stacking up as they approached the buoy, including some tight balls.

Pretty soon it was game on, and after a vigorous fight, Coffs had its first official marlin tag and release for the season. Mark Cunningham was on the rod and had the spangled line tangler knocked over in short order on 24kg stand up. You bewdy!

The good news is that bait continues to hold in 40-60 fathoms, with the bottom bashers reporting solid slimy mackerel easy to jig on site. This means a lure trolling or live bait setup is viable, without having to waste time chasing bait inshore first up. While it’s easy to expect just one species, don’t be surprised if one of the other major players also gets involved. One day last year, we pulled two blacks and then a small blue from five bites in just 50 fathoms.

It’s a bit depressing to construct a column around a single marlin, especially given what we expect at this time of year, but the arrival of bait gives us hope that normal transmission will resume next month and we’ll be butt deep in all manner of summer speedsters.


There’s a lot of marlin tucker right there, and in 48 fathoms, it’s well within range of practically everybody.


Mark Cunningham hooked-up, going old school without a harness.


Mark’s fish boatside. It’s been a dreadfully slow start, but hopefully this is the start of better things.

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