Driving north along the highway today, the clear and cooling inshore waters created a window through which every piece of reef from the edge of the shore-dump to several kilometres out to sea could be seen as brown shadows on the bottom.
Over the next three months only those anglers prepared to make the effort with balanced tackle, light leaders, berley, fresh bait and well-rigged lures can expect to catch fish consistently.
Roger Oates and I fished for bass last weekend and after a slow start with surface lures, we switched over to 4kg threadline tackle, 3kg leader and 3” plastics and we started to hook fish. Even with this light tackle, the only fish we hooked came from the deepest, snaggiest and shadow-covered sections of water.
The best fish of the day was a 50cm-plus bruiser that Roger pulled the hook on near the canoe after an extended fight that took him from one end of the deep pool to the other.
In the estuaries, finding consistent numbers of bream has not been easy. At the moment the fish are in dense schools over the gravel and sand patches and although some have moved onto the banks and leases, they have not switched on to lures.
Those who have been catching bream have been doing it primarily on neutral-buoyancy crankbaits, with the rocky banks and floating leases on the Nambucca River the pick of the spots.
Anglers chasing flathead have been doing well over the mud/sand flats in the midsections of rivers and creeks with 4” and 5” plastic shads the pick of the lures.
Luderick fishing along the break walls and mouths of the smaller creeks has started to hit full swing with some excellent bags of fish to 1.8kg being taken at Nambucca Heads, Urunga, Sawtell, Moonee and Corindi. When the seas are big, the Inner Harbour wall and the boat ramp are two sneaky spots that turn on some great luderick fishing. If you're chasing weed or cabbage for bait, there are some accessible supplies at the bottom of the car park at Gallows Beach.
On the beaches, school jew have been making their presence felt with live beach worms and fresh tailor fillets working well on North Beach near Repton. Sawtell Headland has been the pick of the big-jew spots, with big hard-bodied lures and live worms securing fish to 29kg.
There have been some big tailor around in recent times, with high tides, plenty of moon and big cut baits doing the job on greenbacks to 4kg. Most of the big fish have come from the southern beaches, with smaller fish to around a kilo coming from Sapphire, Hills and Woolgoolga Back Beach.
This month will be your last chance to tangle with a big longtail tuna or Spaniard with quality baits such as slimy mackerel or garfish. LBG anglers have continued to hook the odd longtail tuna from the South Wall with tailor, rat kings and mackerel tuna to 5kg the most common hook-ups at Mutton Bird Island.
Inshore boat anglers have turned their attention to snapper, jew and kings in recent weeks with the same reefs that produced mackerel in Summer/Autumn now being fished at anchor with berley and slowly sinking cut baits. The best snapper caught recently was 7kg but there are plenty of fish around 3kg as well as teraglin and pearl perch on the deeper grounds off Sawtell and South Solitary Island.
Farther out to sea there has been a good run of striped marlin and yellowfin tuna with fish taking trolled lures and baits from the 40-fathom line out to the continental shelf.
Rockhoppers have been reporting good bream, tailor and pigs from Charlesworth Headland, greenback tailor from Woolgoolga Headland and school jewfish from the rocky fingers between Korora and Sapphire.
This month I'll be turning my attention to jewfish with 6” plastics from the rocks on the high tides. At night my boys and I will do some bait-soaking for jew. With a good-sized beach fire always close at hand, there's nothing like having somewhere to sit and warm our hands and legs between captures.
Mat Templeton with a shovelnose shark and a tailor taken fishing for jew after dark.
This chunky rat king was caught on the close grounds by Mat Templeton.
Jacob McIntyre caught this flattie in the Coffs Marina.Reads: 632