Fishing along the Coffs Coast has continued to be productive with a wide range of species on offer for those versatile or keen enough to test their skills across a range of locations and techniques.
In the freshwater rivers and creeks there has been plenty of bass activity with soft plastics, divers and surface lures producing bronze battlers in the 40cm to 46cm range as well as the occasional 50cm-plus fish of a lifetime. The most productive places have been Warrell Creek, Nambucca River and the Bellinger River. Most of the big fish have come after dark on surface lures, chuggers, fizzers and Dahlbergs.
Since the breaking of the drought many of the lily beds have grown back, allowing anglers to cast lures along the deeper fringes and into the pockets of clear water. Fly-casters using weedless surface flies have had some exciting times watching big bass explode through the heavy cover to swallow their big deerhair bugs. Weedless plastics also work well around the lilies. Although the hook-up rate with weed guards is quite low, the amusement factor of watching a bass boof your lure in a shower of white water and lilies makes it all worthwhile.
Downstream in the brackish stretches there has been a solid run of mangrove jacks and trevally, although as the westerlies start to blow and the water begins to clear, the jacks will slow down. Lures and live bait are working on jacks particularly on the falling tides early and late.
It’s at the bottom end of the estuaries that most of the action is taking place, with bream and flathead taking lures around the rock walls, oyster racks and weed beds. My kids and I had great fun on the Kalang River throwing 2” Atomic Fat Grubs around the rock walls, where we landed bream, flathead and luderick. I even got smashed by a better-than-average jack that made short work of my 6lb bream leader. Luderick anglers are bagging out on good-sized fish with the walls at Urunga and Nambucca, Bonville Creek at Sawtell and the Inner Wall at the Harbour being the pick of the spots.
On the beaches there has been a good run of tailor to a kilo and jewfish to 24kg from the Hills, Sapphire, Boambee and North Beach. The inshore fishery has benefited from the arrival of massive schools of whitebait and garfish, which have brought the full array of pelagics within range of beach and rock anglers.
The greatest concentrations of garfish have occurred along the first hundred metres of North Wall, where a range of anglers from kids to hard-core sportfishos have been chasing the gars for a variety of reasons. LBG anglers have been using this area to catch live bait while the kids and granddads have been having even more fun catching plenty of tasty gars for the table.
Although this area is just at the back of the beach, there have been plenty of days when the bluefin have come right in to feed on the gars and anglers fishing inside the bommie have hooked and landed blues over 20kg.. Several younger anglers have been relieved of hundreds of metres of line from their favourite eggbeaters, so I’d say this little garfish honey hole may be the making of the next generation of Coffs LBG fishos!
On the outer headlands the bluefin have been inconsistent, with mack tuna and rat kings making up the bulk of live bait and high-speed spin catches. I fished Mutton Bird Island with live gars for two days in a row without result, while anglers on the South Wall landed a couple of big blues on gars during the same period. I haven’t heard of a Spanish mackerel making it to the rocks at Coffs, although there have been a few landed elsewhere.
Offshore, spotted mackerel continue on the reefs off Sawtell, Bundagen, Urunga, Third Headland and Nambucca. Most of the bait grounds have good supplies of slimy mackerel and anglers are able to fill their bait tanks before heading out to the wider reefs in search of spotties and Spanish.
Since I last wrote a 27kg Spanish has been landed wide off Hungry Head with plenty of spotties coming from the same reefs. Dave Rae has had success trolling small lead-weighted shad plastics and drifting with pilchards for spotties, while those targeting Spanish and bluefin tuna have found trolled live slimies and skipped gars the most effective.
There have also been good populations of kingfish coming from around the close islands and reefs. On our last trip Mick Booth and I landed two 17kg kings on yakkas on the Park Beach Bommie. One of the problems targeting kings here is the vast number of undersized fish. We find that using live bait and larger lures tends to keep the bigger kings interested and cuts down on the number of unwanted small fish.
Snapper to 6kg have come from the reefs off Wooli, Woolgoolga and Moonee Beach. Along with the snapper and jewfish, cobia and spangled emperor have turned up in bottom-bouncers’ catches,
Over the next month jewfish from the surf beaches will be popular with local anglers, who prefer the cooler nights for this specialist form of angling.
Early morning on a North Coast estuary – the promise of good hours ahead.
There are some nice kings around at present – if you can get through the rats.Reads: 1980