As I write there are still plenty of warm-water species along the Coffs Coast with spotted mackerel to 6kg still taking live baits on the northern reefs off Woolgoolga and Arrawarra.
This year's run of bream seems to have stalled with most anglers reporting very slow fishing with bait and lures. Possibly the warm currents have discouraged the bream from heading back up the freezing estuaries. We fished Fisherman’s Reach on the Macleay a few days ago and found the fishing very tough, with a stiff southerly change eventually blowing us off the water. We caught only a few bream and undersized flathead.
On the same day some of my students found the fishing more productive on the Nambucca River near Macksville, with young Andrew Yeung showing his skills with 20-plus bream to 35cm coming off the racks and rocky banks.
Small-boat anglers have been enjoying great bait fishing with snapper to 8kg, jewfish to 24kg, kingfish to 11kg and tailor to almost 4kg feeding over the inshore reefs and around the headland and island washes. Massive schools of whitebait have moved inshore, sending tailor, jewfish and kingfish into a feeding frenzy.
Anglers throwing plastics for jewfish have been faring really well around the northern headlands and those throwing metal spoons have been pulling very big choppers from the washes at Mutton Bird Island and the Quarry/Gallows.
Other welcome visitors attracted by the cooling water and baitfish activity are squid, with some excellent specimens taken on jigs from the reefs along the North Wall and the back of Mutton Bird.
If buzzing around the ocean chasing tuna is your thing then now is the time to re-spool your reels and tune the drags on your high-speed threadlines – there are some very large and hungry schools of big mackerel tuna feeding inshore. Some of these schools are feeding with longtail tuna along the backs of beaches and inside headlands.
Most of the mack tuna are 3kg to 4kg and I've been told there are also yellowfin to 20kg feeding a little further out over the northern reefs. The start of Summer was particularly good for inshore yellowfin tuna and given the large schools of slimies, and now whitebait, schooling up, I'm expecting the small boat and even land-based brigade to get stretched by these awesome fish right through Winter.
On the beaches the flow-on effect of bait schools has meant that tailor and jewfish have figured in most catches, with the northern and southern beaches producing big fish around high tide. At this time of year fresh tailor fillets are my favourite jewfish bait, with mullet fillets a close second.
Before I head down to the sand to chase of jewies, I'll visit a couple of headlands where I can usually spin up half a dozen choppers on metals. If this doesn't work I'll then start my beach session with ganged pilchards and if the tailor still don’t co-operate, I'll go home or break out the mullet fillets that I've brought along as a back-up bait.
In the fresh and brackish creeks there have been some good bass and bream with light traces, light jig heads and 3” soft plastics producing the best fishing. As yet the bass have not moved down to the salt so there should be at least another month of excellent freshwater fishing for those prepared to get the canoe out and get wet.
When the fish do start to move then the canoes can be left at home and punts and dinghies will take over as fishing platforms, with the brackish and higher salt zones on all the rivers and creeks producing fish for those willing to put in the hundreds, or possibly thousands of casts needed to find them.
Over the next month I'll be dividing my time between chasing tuna around the inshore waters from my tinnie and, when the tides are right, I'll be hitting the rocks with my threadline tackle and 6” plastics in search of jew.
My first preference for targeting jew is always lures but if the mood takes me and my boys are keen, we’ll rug up and hit the sand with some cut baits. It never ceases to amaze me how the clear inshore waters come to life once darkness descends.
There are still bass on offer in the freshwater through Winter.
A brackish mixed bag of bass, bream and flathead.
Bridge pylons are good places to target schooling bream and bass through Winter.Reads: 638