Full-tilt fishing
  |  First Published: March 2006

Fishing along the Coffs coast has hit full tilt with mackerel, yellowfin tuna, longtail tuna and jewfish providing great inshore action for small-boat, rock and beach anglers.

Rock anglers fishing the Southern Breakwall and the Quarry have been in the thick of the longtail tuna, kingfish and jewfish. The longtails and kings seem to bite best in the morning on tide changes with live garfish baits and high-speed lures getting the LBG brigade hook-ups.

Anglers fishing North Beach have been getting quality whiting on beach worms, with local basketball star Scott Davies landing a whiting that was pushing a kilo, hooked while fishing for school jew.

North of town, Sapphire and Emerald beaches have fished well for jew to 18kg with cut baits, squid and worms catching the bulk of after-dark fish.

I lost two big jew in consecutive casts from the northern beach rocks yesterday afternoon. Both fish hit 6” plastics right on high tide. I pulled the hook on the first fish and the second rubbed my 80lb leader off on a nearby bommie.

I hear that James Yeung has been having similar problems with unstoppable jew on plastics from the rocks down Nambucca way. The catch-22 when using plastics for jew is a delivery system that lets you introduce finesse lures but still allows you to put the brakes on fish to over 20kg in rocky confines.

There are plenty of big tailor lurking in the offshore island washes. My brother Trevor and I got some big fish to 2kg on a variety of lures including 6” plastics, metals and trolled slimies. The most recent venue was Pig Island, just wide of the harbour.

The inshore bait reefs have been producing mackerel to 19kg and good numbers of yellowfin tuna to 15kg on live baits and trolled lures. We hooked three yellowfin tuna to 13kg just wide of Macauleys Headland a few days ago. Two took live slimies and the third a minnow lure.

We managed to land two of the fish, with the biggest getting eaten by a shark down deep under the boat. It sure made for exciting fishing from my 4.35-metre v-nosed punt!

Wider out, there have been even greater numbers of yellowfin to 30kg, with mahi-mahi to 16kg, striped/black marlin to over 100kg and wahoo to 15kg. Deepwater bait fishos have been getting snapper to 6kg, pearl perch to 3kg and tuskfish to 3kg.

Urunga angler Dave Rae managed to troll up a 4kg snapper on a big mackerel minnow – not an uncommon occurrence on the shallow southern reefs where snapper and mackerel hunt. Anglers chasing teraglin and jewfish after dark have been reporting consistent catches, with big snapper and kingfish also taking an interest in fresh live and dead baits.


All the creeks have been fishing consistently for mangrove jack, bream, flathead and mud crabs. We've had plenty of rain so finding relatively clean water has not been easy but if you do manage to organise a trip on the first few days after the clear-up, the fishing can be sensational with all manner of species keen to eat lures and baits.

The Kalang, Bellinger and Nambucca rivers have been the pick of the bigger estuaries with jacks and trevally from the snags, bream from the leases and overhanging trees and bass from the freshwater reaches.

Finding some estuary action is not hard for versatile lure angler with bass, bream and jacks a viable single-trip option for those looking for the coveted North Coast hat-trick.

We returned back from a family week at Minnie Water recently and although I was told to leave my jew gear at home, the amount of excellent jew spinning territory I sussed out will have me doing regular weekend day trips to this fish-rich location.

Fishing around the North Illaroo campsite with my kids, we caught plenty of whiting from the golden sands and had no trouble catching a feed of small duskies and bream on plastics in the Wooli estuary.

Over the next month I'll be spending some serious time trolling live slimy mackerel, tailor, pike and bonito around the headlands and inshore reefs in search of big Spanish mackerel. Most of the bigger Spaniards have been caught wide of Bundagen and Third headlands down near Urunga but as the main body of warm water and baitfish arrive, the reefs closer to Coffs should fire.

Those wanting more consistent action on smaller spotted mackerel might try the wider reefs from 1km to 5km out. When targeting spotties, a variety of techniques including trolling live slimies or berleying and floating back a mixture of wired-up pilchards and live baits will bring success.



Trevor Atkinson with a solid tailor caught on a soft plastic in the wash.


Mike Colless with a school jew taken while spinning the oyster leases for bream.


This solid school jew scoffed down the 6” plastic and 1/2oz jig you can see hanging from its gob.

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