Although creating a momentary hiccup in the fishing with heavy seas and strong south-east winds, the heavy rain dumped on Coffs Coast through late January should set up good fishing right though until April.
A couple of mates heading out the other day to do some light-tackle spinning and bommie-bashing with floaters had a solid four-hour session as surface-schooling spotted mackerel to 5kg took all their light lure offerings.
There have been some huge schools of baitfish over the Korora/Sapphire reefs and spotted mackerel, bonito, tailor and mack tuna have been in hot pursuit.
As more warm water arrives the bluefin tuna and Spanish mackerel will start their own bite. Tailor, bonito and mack tuna are on the Spaniards’ menu and garfish, longtoms and slimy mackerel are relished by the bluefin.
If you are hoping to hook up to a big Spanish then you can't go past trolled dead bonito or tailor, with live slow-trolled pike another gun bait. When trolling big baits for Spanish you won't need to travel too far out to sea – the backs of beaches, headlands and bommies are where these mighty predators do their killing.
Offshore bottom-bashers have been getting snapper to 6kg, pearl perch to 2kg, parrot fish to 2kg, morwong to 3kg and the odd sand flathead. The reefs to the south of Coffs have been fishing particularly well for these species while jewfish, teraglin, samson and kingfish have come from the reefs just wide of the Solitary lighthouse to the north.
I have also heard of mahi mahi to 4kg coming from the traps and the FAD, while plenty of tailor from 1kg to 2kg have been spun or trolled from the washes around the islands. Game fishos are reporting black marlin near the inshore bait schools with striped marlin wide of the lighthouse.
On the rocks I've already heard reports of mackerel bite-offs and a couple of bluefin have been landed, one by an angler using a metal lure, the other on a live yellowtail. If you're after a land-based pelagic capture you can't go past the quarry/southern breakwall, Mutton Bird Island, Sawtell Headland or perhaps Emerald Headland.
On the beaches there have been stacks of dart, whiting, bream, flathead and school jew, with the run down from high tide late or early in the day producing the best fishing.
In the estuaries there has been a glut of great fishing on offer with luderick over a kilo from a variety of creeks and the Nambucca and Bellinger-Kalang systems producing great float-fishing using cabbage weed.
Bream anglers have also been doing very nicely in these larger systems with bag limits of fish being released around the oyster leases and further upstream under the trees. I took Surrey cricket coach Steve Rixon for a spin in the Kalang last week in difficult 20-knot winds and we still managed to get a reasonable bag of bream, with most fish taking small soft plastic stickbaits worked tight against or under structure.
My regular fishing mate Mike Colless fished the Kalang with Russ Williams last week and had the fight of his life, landing a huge 55cm (fork length) mangrove jack on his bream gear. The big red devil came from under a pontoon and kept pounding the riverbed but couldn't find anything to rub Mike's 9lb leader and 4lb line against.
Unfortunately no camera was on board for the capture but I'm reliably informed by a guy who’s caught more big jacks than most that the fish was massive and could have been somewhere around 3.5kg.
I'm having much less luck on jacks, with my rod being ripped out of my arms and launched into the drink being one of the many stuff-ups I've had when jacking in recent weeks. On our last trip we had 24 jack bites and managed to land only one 48cm fish. Most hook-ups were missed although I did manage to throw in four bust-ups on 60lb and 80lb leader.
Young Central Coast angler Dean Bolton had more luck and after changing to 30lb single-strand wire managed to extract a couple of red demons from the wormwood, with his best fish around 50cm.
In the fresh there are plenty of bass with plastics through the day and surface lures at night the best fishing options. Warrell Creek, Taylors Arm, Upper Kalang, Upper Bellinger, Orara River and the Clarence system are favourite bass options Coffs Coast anglers can easily visit.
Over the next month the pelagic fishery should hit full tilt with spotted and Spanish mackerel the main targets for boat anglers. Catching good live bait such as slimies and pike will be the key to great fishing.
Rock fishos look like having a much better season than 2004 with Spanish mackerel and bluefin tuna making their presence felt at more ledges than just Iluka and Hat Head. All forms of fishing have some inherent risk involved, so until next month fish hard using your head and not your heart – safe fishing.
The author with a middle-of-the-day bass caught on a small soft plastic grub.
Charlesworth Bay is a popular and relatively safe rock possie.
Tim Law pulled this bream out of Bonville Creek.Reads: 381