Spanish spice it up
  |  First Published: April 2003

Coffs bus driver Paul Beaumont scored the best Spanish mackerel to date with a 25kg fish that dive-bombed his live slimy mackerel a kilometre or so off Bundagen Headland.

The slimy was under a balloon on 15kg tackle with 25kg single-strand wire and had to be chased before being landed 20 minutes later. A while back Paul had mentioned his problems with losing many big mackerel because the knot to his swivel was breaking. This was the first big fish he’d landed since incorporating a short bimini double into his rigging.

The double flexes and takes some of the shock out of close-range hook-ups and sizzling runs. The down side of having a double knot is another bubble trail that mackerel can be inclined to have a swipe at. But generally the benefits of a shock double outweigh the disadvantages.

Mackerel, spotted and Spanish, have been caught over inshore and offshore reefs with Bundagen the best. I did hear of a couple of good fish coming in off Macauleys Headland and the Park Beach Bommie. Free divers have also been getting good mackerel and wahoo off the front of North West Solitary Island.

Offshore anglers chasing jew around South Solitary Island have reported bag limits in the wash at Black Rock. There are also some mangrove jack down there pushing 10kg so if you drop a live slimy down, you’d better hang on tight! Anglers towing their mackerel baits a bit wider have reported hook-ups on sailfish, black and striped marlin. Most of the action is happening a couple of clicks wide of South Solitary Island.

Free divers tell me they regularly see anglers trolling their live baits and lures past uninterested mackerel, wahoo and kings. There seem to be more pelagics over the reefs than we thought and most fish are in the mood to eat a bait only very early or late in the day.

Livies scarce

I recently spent the afternoon fishing from the rocks at the Quarry and, as usual, I payed the price for not carrying in live bait. An hour spent at the jetty or up a local creek could have saved me three hours of effort and half a dozen bait jigs as I tried to rustle up something worth putting out under a balloon. In the end the oversized silver trevally I put out was not the least bit appealing to the pods of bluefin that scooted through during the afternoon.

LBG on the Coffs Coast suffers from chronic bait problems and few spots reliably produce bait. Mullet caught in a tidal creek and yellowtail and tailor caught from a harbour wharf are the best options if you want to maximise your time on the stones.

Around the rocks there have been some good bluefin caught with fish from 14kg to 18kg the norm. Emerald, Charlesworth, Mutton Bird Island, South Wall, the Quarry and Sawtell Headland are worth trying for land-based mackerel and bluefin. I haven’t heard of a mackerel taken from the stones but if rock anglers get access to some decent bait schools, it shouldn’t be long.

In the estuaries there have been plenty of good-sized whiting, flathead, bream and luderick with flathead over 5kg caught in the Kalang and Nambucca rivers. Bream anglers fishing the brackish stretches of the Bellinger have reported plenty of shark activity with bream getting snaffled boatside by hungry whalers, some well over a metre.

The recent rain should be good news for bass and mangrove jack anglers with plenty of good fish sure to come on in the next few weeks. Estuary anglers have landed some jacks over 2kg around the breakwalls as well as the odd jew. Best baits for breakwall jacks and jew are live mullet and herring. Throughout the drought, school jewfish have been caught well up many of the smaller creeks on the Coffs Coast. The run of school jew in Bonville Creek continues with the deep stretches near the rail bridge producing after dark.

Luderick anglers have been making good catches at the mouth of Bonville Creek, near Sawtell Headland and on the South Wall. There have been some good catches of tailor at the South Wall and from boats fishing close to Diggers Beach. Casting metals or trolling small minnows are the best techniques.

Land-based jewfish captures have been quiet with only the odd fish. The best I’ve heard lately was a 25kg fish that ate a lure down near Sapphire Headland, a well-earned fish caught by a dedicated angler in pretty rough country. I’ll be paying a visit to Sapphire Beach in the Fishing NSW annual – it’s a spot worth putting onto your must-try list.



Kingfish are hunting around the North Coast washes, along with mackerel and northern bluefin. at present.


Megan Rae with a good spotty and a snapper taken down Urunga way.


There are plenty of bass in the upstream sweetwater sections, particularly since the late February rain.

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