Rockin’ the beaches
  |  First Published: March 2003

It was the classic tailor possie, an eastward-extending headland that stayed in touch with the surf break for most of its length, offering the enterprising angler a wide choice of wash zones to land a bait or lure.

To stand on the beach and reach the same water would have required a cast of Herculean proportions. If you pick your possie, beach fishing from the rocks can be a safe and effective way of sneaking up on fish like tailor, jew and bream feeding in water normally out of reach. Over the next hour, using ganged pilchards, I landed six good-sized tailor and a tarwhine that must have been on steroids. The headland was Charlesworth Headland, just north of Coffs.

With strong onshore winds, the seas have deposited tonnes of dead kelp along all local beaches. Anglers have found it particularly difficult to keep a bait in the water for any length of time but those who have found patches of clear water, particularly on the deeper northern beaches, have managed reasonable catches of school jew, tailor and bream. On the beaches south of town, whiting, dart, flathead, bream, tarwhine and some jew have been caught, with most daytime anglers enjoying the light-line fishing that’s on offer at Boambee Beach and North Beach near Repton.

Offshore, the mackerel have become reasonably consistent with most of the spottie action taking place of Bundagen and Third headlands, well to the south of the harbour. By the time you read this I’m hoping that the Spanish and spotted mackerel will be feeding over all inshore reefs, with Macauleys Headland the first place worth visiting to the north of the harbour and the Patches off Sawtell to the south.

There have been quality snapper around most island washes early and late in the day, with floating pilchards accounting for most of the bigger fish. South Solitary, Spilt Solitary and Pig Island have produced snapper to 5kg and tailor to 3kg in close.

I’m going to stick my neck out right now and predict that with favourable Autumn currents there are going to be some good bluefin tuna and Spanish mackerel caught from the rocks. Mutton Bird Island and The Quarry will be the launching pads for some exciting LBG action.

Catching bait will be the problem for most anglers on the stones. My tip, to avoid disappointment, is to catch mullet at a local creek or yellowtail around the harbour wharves and carry them onto the rocks. Or you could take your chances on the ledges – live tailor and pike are great mackerel baits and can be caught from most LBG platforms with a wash nearby.

In the creeks there have been some mighty big mangrove jacks on the prowl, Grantly Gray from Piscator Productions was up doing some filming with us last week and we landed six jacks to 50cm for the camera, with the smallest fish a respectable 43cm.

Unfortunately, the jacks are here one day gone the next and trying to make any sense of their movements is not easy. The only pattern that I’m prepared to lock in as fact is that they feed much more actively when there’s plenty of water movement and the run-out tide seems to be best to target snags with lures and bait.

Salty Warrell

I fished Warrell Creek, south of Macksville, a few days ago with two friends and we couldn’t find any fresh water – where the first big tree blocked our travels upstream, the water was still full salt and all freshwater weed growth was gone. An afternoon of casting resulted in one flathead. Even the bream we expected to take over the bass snags weren’t on the chew. From poppers and divers to plastics, nothing seemed to interest the fish.

Those fishing the Bellinger River are reporting more success on bass to 48cm, with surface lures early or late in the day producing the most action.

There seem to be some good lizards poking around the downstream stretches of the Bellinger, Kalang and Nambucca rivers. Large soft plastic shads are doing the trick, particularly on top of the weed beds.

There have been plenty of big whiting caught from the entrances to various creeks – an 800g screamer was caught at Bonville, with Boambee, Coffs and Corindi creek mouths also home to monster whiting. Best baits seem to be beach worms or nippers.

Bonville creek has also had its fair share of school jew in recent weeks with anglers live-baiting for jacks at night near the rail bridge reporting school jew to 3kg enjoying the live mullet and herring baits more than the red devils.



Bass and bream seem to go together as the drought wears on and fresh water becomes scarce.


Not all North Coast jacks are big – the author with a 35cm model.


Kurt Atkinson with a 46cm bass that ate his fizzer on the Bellinger River.

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