Consistent rain and some localised flooding has made for difficult fishing conditions along the Coffs Coast.
With mackerel and longtail tuna finally on our doorstep, the rains through March and early April brought the inshore water temperatures down, pushing some fish farther to sea and many more to the south. This dirty water kept the bait and bigger pelagic schools off the inshore reefs and headlands where small-boat and rock anglers like to target them.
Anglers heading south to Bundagen Headland and those heading east to the Solitary Islands have still been catching fish, with mackerel to 21kg, longtail tuna to 19kg and yellowfin tuna to 17kg being the pick of the species.
LBG anglers have been getting the odd longtail but again the high rainfall and big seas have made life difficult and dangerous. Plenty of patience and fitness is required for this form of angling because getting to the location, catching live bait and then watching it bob around the ocean under a balloon until a big wash-hugging pelagic stumbles across it, can be a day-long exercise.
Local jew spinning and LBG expert Michael Delolmo has been getting some quality fish in recent times with his 35kg- plus cobia caught from the rocks on a live yakka being the standout LBG capture so far this season. Knowing Michael, he'll probably back this up with a big mackerel or bluefin in the next few weeks, such is his commitment to this extreme form of angling.
Anglers chasing jewfish from the rocks and beaches have been making the most of the stirred-up conditions with the rocks at Sawtell, Emerald, Moonee and Red Rock producing solid jew to 25kg for those casting lures or soaking quality baits. I fished Woolgoolga Headland last week and lost a couple of massive tailor that were certainly over the magic 6kkg. The first took a 125g Raider and after a spirited fight on 15kg overhead tackle I lost it at my feet trying to winch the huge chopper up the high rock I was perched on. The second took a big mackerel popper and fell off on an airborne run. It looked more like a 6kg or 7kg mahi mahi than a tailor. The first fish would have been landed if I'd brought along my two-piece rock gaff, a battered and bent piece of LBG equipment I don't normally bother to take on tailor-only spinning expeditions.
With so much fresh around, those fishing the rivers have been doing it tough with the upstream bass and jack waters never really getting a chance to settle down and clear before the next flood hits.
Anglers fishing the downstream estuary areas have been landing big bream, whiting, luderick and flathead with bait anglers faring really well in the murky conditions. There have been some good jew and jacks hanging around the breakwalls on the Kalang and Nambucca systems with live mullet and herring securing some solid hook-ups on jew to 20kg and jacks to 3kg.
The beach gutters near the mouths of estuaries have also been worth targeting, with North Beach near the Kalang/Bellinger entrance producing plenty of school jew on beach worms and the gutters on Sawtell beach producing some tailor to 2kg after dark.
Offshore bottom-bouncers have been landing snapper to 7kg with amberjack, teraglin and tuskfish thrown in. There have been some solid kings to 8kg and tailor to 4kg hanging around the islands and headland washes, the bigger fish taking trolled live slimy mackerel and yellowtail baits.
Anglers fishing plastics in the washes have been hooking snapper, tailor and kings with the recognised bait grounds also being good places to introduce plastics for snapper. My son Kurt got a nice reddie on a 6” plastic on the Park Beach bommie while we were catching live slimies there.
Over the next month I'm hoping to actually land a mega-tailor from the rocks and possibly get stuck into a few mackerel from my small boat. Rock anglers fishing from the South Wall, Mutton Bird Island, Emerald and Hat Head will be hoping for slight seas and a solid run of longtail tuna, cobia and mackerel.
The author took this nice school jew from a wash behind a bommie within casting distance.
A solid jack from Newports Creek.
Once the upstream water colour clears there should be some good bass around this Autumn.
Flathead and bream have been biting well in the estuaries whenever the floodwaters subside.Reads: 559