Jewies save the day
  |  First Published: December 2002

Jewies save the day

There seem to be good numbers of jewfish taking up the slack for what can only be described as a really slow start to the Summer season along the Coffs Coast.

Since I last wrote there’s been a glut of jewfish caught from nearly all the beaches to the north and south of town. I fished close to home earlier tonight and nailed a 3kg schoolie on a strip of fresh yellowtail. For most anglers, school jewfish are an exciting capture and I, for one, never tire of their aggressive take and spirited fight along the back of the shore dump.

Not that schoolies are the only fish on offer, I did hear of one fish of 30kg that was caught on Boambee Beach. Most jew are falling to beach worms or tailor fillets, although there are plenty of yellowtail in the harbour and an unweighted piece of prawn or pilchard will normally do the trick on these excellent bait fish.

Speaking of the harbour, I took my boys down to catch some bream and yellowtail a few nights ago and while they were playing with the yakkas, I got smashed up by a jack on an Atomic 2” Grub, one of my favourite bream lures. If jewfish aren’t your scene, then the beaches are also producing whiting to 600g on live beach worms.

Live poddy mullet and big soft plastics are producing quality lizards to 3 kilos at the mouths of the estuaries. The mouth of Kalang River at Urunga, Bonville Creek near Sawtell, Corindi Creek near Red Rock and the Sandon River have been the pick of the flathead possies. Farther upstream there has been the occasional jack and trevally but without rainfall, lure-tossers will be doing it tough for a while. I’m now three jack trips in a row without getting a bump and at this time of year that’s very strange.

Bass anglers have been reporting very lean pickings as well and it’s only those prepared to fish with surface lures after dark that are scoring numbers of fish. At present weed levels in the fresh are increasing rapidly and using any sub-surface lure is almost a waste of time in some systems. On a positive note, increased weed means that bass will freely take surface lures well away from structure during the night and big noisy chuggers and fizzers have been doing the trick on fish to 48cm.


With cooler, El Nino-induced, offshore water persisting, there have been plenty of snapper, kingfish, bream, tarwhine, kingfish, pearl perch and big samsons for those heading east. Steve Cooper from Orara Charters tells me there are a few striped marlin poking around near the shelf, with even bigger blues a bit further out. I’ve also been told that trolled kingfish have been accounting for some hook-ups on massive blue marlin that are giving 37kg and even 60kg tackle a real workout.

Closer in there have been plenty of schools of bonito and mack tuna over the inshore reefs with lure-tossers accounting for the biggest catches. Down Urunga way, the inshore fishing has been hit-and-miss with some boats catching nothing, others catching bag limits of small fish and the odd boat bagging out on snapper to 6kg with the odd jew thrown in. Dave Rae tells me that the cool water temps are sending green, algae-filled water to the surface, a sure sign that the day’s fishing might be on the tough side.

Over the next month the blue swimmer crabs should come onto the chew in the bigger rivers with witches’ hats being my preferred method of capture. Baits like tailor and tuna are the best crab net fodder – avoid snapper, jewfish or bream frames if possible.

Local spearfishermen have already reported sighting some big Spanish mackerel around the Solitary Islands. This early run of Narooma-bound fish happens each December with the main body of mackerel not arriving until late January or February.

Apart from live slimy mackerel, you can’t beat slow-trolled pike for big mackerel. A bit of research now on the best spots to catch pike can save a lot frustration when the mackerel arrive in numbers and the slimies go off the chew.


The author with a lure-munching creek lizard. There’s been plenty of water for flathead to explore lately.


Young Kurt Atkinson with one of the best reasons to be on a beach after dark.


Huh, one of last year’s models, says a younger Kurt. Jacks have been a bit harder to hunt down this season – unless you’re fishing the harbour for bream.

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