The creeks and beaches have come alive with the full range of species that makes fishing along the Coffs Coast so exciting.
I fished a local creek a few afternoons ago and had my first jack bust-up of the season when a big red bandit slammed my mullet and shredded my 60lb leader as it dragged me along the outer edge of the snag from which it had pounced.
On the next throw my nine-year-old son, Kurt, hooked a smaller 45cm fish which he had no trouble extracting from the same log pile.
A few nights earlier, Andrew ‘ET’ Ettingshausen had been fishing the same snag pile with guide Dave Irvine and after a couple of bust-ups the boys managed to wrestle a 60cm fish from the wormy wood – it should make great viewing on an upcoming TV show.
In the upper reaches of most tidal creeks there are schools of big and aggressive GTs on the prowl with anglers having a ball casting metals and hard bodies at these hard-running pelagics.
If you're targeting GTs keep your eyes open and look for feeding fish that are driving baitfish into the shallows, often on the inside of jack snags. Areas worth targeting are the deeper, snag-lined stretches around rail and road bridges.
In the freshwater the bass have been getting an absolute hiding in recent months with most accessible stretches of river getting fished every morning and afternoon. The Bellinger River, a local RFA, has been the most heavily fished and catches of good-sized fish have been few and far between.
To spread the fishing around, anglers should consider trying other locations that have been successful for me in recent years. Some of my favourite spots include the Orara River at Glenreagh and the Clarence, Warrell Creek, the Kalang River, Taylors Arm, Bowraville, Sportsman's Creek, the Coldstream River, Clarence Gorge and the Clarence below Copmanhurst.
If you're after big bass then night fishing with a surface lure is the way to go. Fish that won't look at a lure during daylight suddenly come out of nowhere and throw all caution to the wind once the sun sets.
Soft plastics worked patiently down deep have been producing good fish; the down side of this is an alarming number of catch-and-kill anglers who have mastered such lures.
The current range of promotional plastics videos, designed to sell lures for their makers, has certainly had a dramatic and negative effect on wild North Coast bass fishing in recent seasons.
I couldn't care less about how many stocked impoundment fish are killed or mishandled by those working plastics but when the last remnants of truly wild fish are being pillaged, I start to take notice.
The use of deadly effective plastic techniques on a wild bass can be paralleled with the pillaging of big flathead that has occurred on the Far South Coast of NSW. Soft plastics put in the hands of talented, but unethical, anglers have signed the death warrant of hundreds of big breeder flathead and bass in recent years.
On the beaches the run of jewfish to 16kg has continued with North Beach near Repton and Sapphire Beach the pick spots. Rock anglers haven't been catching many tailor but the ones they have caught have been really big with fish from 3kg to 4kg coming from the rocks at Mutton Bird Island, the South Wall/Quarry and Look at Me Now Headland near Emerald Beach.
LBG anglers have been spinning up a mixture of tailor, salmon and rat kings with the deep-water drop-offs pretty quiet for tuna, cobia and mackerel. The end of this month should see the start of the mackerel season with the boaties trolling slimy mackerel around the inshore reefs usually the first to feel the hits and sizzling runs of spotted and barred mackerel.
The top three mackerel reefs in recent years have been Macauleys Headland at Coffs, Whitmores Reef at Sawtell and Bundagen Reef near Myleston. All of these are easy to find and only a few kilometres from the coast, perfect for small-boat fishos who want to drift or troll with live slimy, bonito, tailor or pike baits.
Offshore the run of good-sized yellowfin has continued with fish from 15kg to 40kg caught by amateur and professional tuna chasers working the shelf area. The water has reached 25° in recent times so the black and striped marlin run shouldn't be too far away.
Snapper anglers fishing the inshore reefs at Woolgoolga and Corindi have been getting plenty of reddies to 6kg and jewfish to 24kg with lightly weighted cut baits working well on the snapper and live yellowtail doing the job on jewfish.
The fishing has been so good lately that anglers have been putting out just before dark and within the hour coming home with two or three big snapper for the evening's dinner – talk about having fresh fish on tap! It could only happen on the Coffs Coast.
Andrew and Jacob McIntyre with a nice bream and flathead from the Bellinger River near Urunga.
Fishing for bream from the Coffs Jetty is always popular with kids.
Hard-running and tasty bonito will come on the bite this month.Reads: 3761