Offshore, inshore, it’s all good
  |  First Published: December 2008

A long finger of very warm water has been making for exciting fishing along the Coffs Coast with snapper, kingfish, bonito and good jewfish on offer for those fishing from the rocks or small boats.

Offshore anglers have been doing well casting to the backs of breaking water with big tailor and kingfish showing interest in soft plastics, surface poppers and metals.

North of Coffs there is a stack of inshore reefs and bomboras which get fished only by a few versatile anglers prepared to go to a little extra effort with their boat positioning and lure casting.

If you're not into lures then drifting back dead or live baits can be very rewarding in these shallow areas, with species as diverse as kings, jewfish, tuna and mackerel prepared to get in on the act.

Adding a consistent flow of berley such as tuna oil and chook pellets to your immediate fishing area can also turn a slow session into an exciting one.

Further offshore, there are yellowfin tuna, striped marlin, wahoo, mahi mahi and blue marlin to be found, with the waters along the continental shelf producing great fishing for those with big boats and budgets to match.

Offshore anglers have found big skirted pushers to be the most successful lures on marlin, with bridled tuna and slimy mackerel baits also producing fish.

Live bait can be easily caught on the reefs inside of South Solitary Island, with small frigate mackerel and striped tuna taking small Christmas tree lures near bait schools.

If you're targeting mackerel then these same live baits are best trolled slowly on wire around the edges of the recognised inshore bait grounds. Most mackerel fishing occurs within a few kilometres of the coastline, which is a great money-saver in these difficult times.


Rock anglers have found the variable sea conditions difficult, but when the ocean has settled down to a safe level there have been plenty of school jewfish and tailor on the bite.

Rock fishos have been getting solid jewfish to 10kg or more on soft plastics, while worm tossers have also been getting slightly smaller jew from the sand along all the well-guttered beaches.

Park Beach at the Jetty has been fishing well at night for jew on worms; the run-out tide from Coffs Creek is the best time to fish in front of the surf club.

Salmon have been very patchy with big tailor still controlling the inshore washes at Mutton Bird and the South Wall. The boys who fish big metals and poppers from Emerald, Moonee and Woolgoolga Headlands have been mixing it with bigger tailor in the low-light periods at either end of the day.

These same headlands fish well for jew on soft plastics. The creek mouths adjoining many headlands are excellent places to introduce soft plastic lures, or live beach worms for jewfish.

When fishing for jew from the rocks, always try to fish in stirred-up water. Unfortunately calm conditions with perfectly flat seas are comfortable to fish but rarely produce great fishing.

On the other, hand huge seas and sand-filled whitewater are also to be avoided for safety and fishing reasons. A metre or so of swell, a falling tide and a bit of wind chop are my favourite jew conditions near creek mouths.


In the rivers there have been plenty of flathead and big whiting on the bite for those using live mullet and nipper baits.

The Bellinger/Kalang system has been fishing well for both species, with some great school jewfish coming from the road and rail bridges at night.

From what I'm told, soft plastic lures have been braining the jew around the pylons, while live baits have remained untouched.

Farther up-river, there have been reports of mangrove jack and trevally. For jacks and trevally, the run-out tide is the best period and shallow-running hard-bodied lures and live baits cast into the snags have been securing hook-ups and bust-ups.

In the fresh water, bass are actively feeding on the surface.

Dale and Harvey Graham recently got among the fish with a dozen or so quality bass from a local river, all caught and released on surface lures. Dale and I took a mid-week trip out to the Orara River and got some small bass on thong poppers.

Over the next month I'll be targeting mangrove jacks in my local creeks and heading back up to Queensland to chase impoundment barra. Hopefully by the time I've arrived up north the water temps will have risen and the fish will be on the chew.

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