After the second period of sustained springtime rainfall the freshwater rivers, coastal estuaries and inshore waters are in great shape and the fish are feeding freely.
Offshore anglers have been catching plenty of snapper to 8kg, with bag limit catches of fish to 4kg coming from the reefs in 30-60m of water. Other species on most catch lists are pearl perch, morwong, parrotfish, teraglin and samson fish. All of these species will take a variety of baits and lures with lightly weighted pilchards and soft plastics on 1/2oz jigheads working best in water to 40m. The heavier dropper rigs and snapper leads working best in the current over the deeper reefs.
Lure anglers have been enjoying themselves in the washes around South Solitary Island with kingfish, tailor and the odd snapper finding the 6” soft plastic presentations irresistible. Anglers fishing from the rocks and break walls have continued to battle tailor to 2kg and salmon to 3kg with both species taking metal lures and slow retrieved ganged pilchards and garfish. There have been plenty of kingfish in the deep washes at Emerald, Mutton Bird and the Quarry. Anglers targeting black drummer have reported some really big fish to 4kg taking peeled prawn and cunje baits. Mixed in with the drummer have been some hard pulling bream and tarwhine to over a kilo. The hotspots are the rarely fished headlands from Sapphire through to Arrawarra. If you're looking for a rock possie to throw some lightly weighted baits around then choose areas with white water and some depth. Gutters that have some sand and water movement heading seaward are the pick of the spots, and don't forget to throw plenty of bread burley around while you're wetting a line.
On the beaches there have been big schools of salmon on the move with the fish coming within metres of dry land on the deeper beaches to the north of Coffs. Lure and bait anglers have continued to do well on sambos near Mylestom; bream and whiting making up most daytime bags for those using beach worms, pipis or nippers. Jewfish have been hit and miss of late with bait fishers often more successful than those using lures. Sapphire, Woolgoolga, Hills and Moonee beaches have produced school jew to around 6kg, with after dark tide changes, fresh beach worms and tailor fillets proving to be the best ingredients. The big seas that came with the heavy rainfall have dumped a lot of kelp onto the northern beaches so the southern corners are best avoided until this weed rots and drifts away.
For lure anglers targeting jew on soft plastics, the high tides have not been as productive as those we saw during winter. The major problem has been a sand build-up that has shut down the inner edge of many bommies making the water too shallow and stirred up for fish to comfortably hold as a feeding station. A few mates have directed their attention to the low tide periods which after some creative rock climbing, gives them better casting access to the outer edges on bommies where the major concentrations of fish are now lying.
In the brackish water the mangrove jacks are already on the bite with fish to over 50cm hitting both lures and livebaits. The best periods to target jacks are during runout tides with the morning being my preferred time of day. All creeks around Coffs produce jacks with those closest to town being the most consistent and easily accessed. Lure anglers have also been hooking trevally with a Lachlan Monro landing a nice 40cm GT on a soft plastic down Urunga way. Further up river in the full fresh the "bronzed battler" or Aussie bass have been providing some exciting sport for anglers who own a canoe and are prepared to use it. We've been having most success fishing after dark with surface lures, a mate and myself released 15 bass to 45cm the other night, with all fish hitting chuggers once the sun had set. Days when there's high humidity and afternoon storm activity have been the best for pre-dark fishing, just be careful if there's any low level lightning making ground fall.
Over the coming month I'll continue to target bass, with jacks and jew also making it onto my lure fishing radar.
Zoom in on head only and delete big Dan’s bonce please
Big snapper have been taken on soft plastics fished on 1/2oz jigheads lately.Reads: 914