Set up for a great season
  |  First Published: December 2004

Heavy and consistent rain through November and early December has guaranteed great fishing over the New Year, with fish predicted to be on the chew from the upper freshwater reaches through the brackish and salt estuaries, from the rocks, beaches and offshore.

The common thread between these environments is rain, linked with ocean temperatures, prevailing winds, bait fish and breeding movements. If things keep going, as they are, some of my favourite North Coast species such as bass, jacks, jew, mackerel, cobia and longtail tuna will keep me well and truly occupied from January to late June.

At present the freshwater reaches are fishing particularly well for bass, with the coastal and inland streams producing quality to fish to 50cm on a range of lures including plastics, hard bodies and spinnerbaits.

Billy Livingston fished one of the Clarence tributaries recently and caught his PB 50cm bass on a spinnerbait – great country to visit and a great fish among a dozen or more other quality bass. Kane Ward has also been doing well on the bass in the upper Clarence with a variety of hard-bodied divers and surface lures for bass to 45cm. Most fish were caught from his canoe during the late afternoon and early morning.

Former Hawkesbury/Colo angler Dale Graham has had his usual fan club of sub-30cm bass tailing him on most trips but I have heard that since he came back from his quick-fix trip to Weipa, he's actually got some better fish. The Bellinger, Manning and Macleay have been among his favourite spots.

The word is out that the trout streams from Dorrigo to Ebor are fishing really well for trophy rainbows over 3kg. These are hatchery-released fish and definitely don't have a case of lockjaw. There have been plenty of stories of broken leaders and even broken rods on these huge trout. Nymphs through the day and white moth pattern dry flies late in the day are doing the job.

In the brackish water the jacks are definitely on the chew with lures and live bait producing captures and bust-ups. The time to fish is on a run-out tide in the morning; the more run, the better the fishing should be.

All the rivers from Nambucca north have good populations of jacks, with the more remote destinations producing best.


In the salt, catching a bag limit of flathead is easy either soft plastics around the weed bed fringes or on live bait in the deeper areas with more flow. The Kalang, Nambucca, Bellinger and Sandon rivers are probably the most consistent flathead possies, with smaller estuaries such as those at Bonville, Boambee, Corindi and Wooli providing good shallow-water lure fishing.

Mike Colless has been doing well on the bream in the Kalang River with fish to 40cm taking lightly weighted Bass Minnows and grubs flicked around the rocky fringes and oyster racks.

On the beaches, there have been plenty of reports of school jew taking beach worms at Sawtell Headland and Sapphire Beach, with bigger fish to 18kg coming from Campbells Beach on fresh squid.

If you're into lure-tossing for jew and tailor, the headlands around Korora, Moonee, Emerald, Red Rock and Station Creek are the pick.

Boaties targeting mackerel would be well advised to head down to the water tower off Boambee Headland (Whitmores Reef) or further south to the reefs off Bundagen and Third Headland at Urunga.

The reefs to the north of Coffs, at Macauleys, Korora and Moonee, also produce mackerel but not with the regularity of the southern reefs. Live slimy mackerel can be caught at a variety of spots, with the Park Beach Bommie being the first place most anglers stop at to stock up on these great mackerel baits.

These same reefs will produce snapper, cobia, kingfish and jew so it can pay to feed a bait to the bottom while your waiting for a pelagic to crash a surface bait.

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