ALTHOUGH the days are shortening, the nights are clearer and the air cooler, the water temperatures around the Coffs Coast are still pushing low to mid 20°s offshore, with the estuaries also benefiting form the influx of a warm coastal current.
Anglers fishing between Coffs and Urunga have been enjoying a good run of spotted and Spanish mackerel with the water towers mark off Boambee, Bundagen Headland and Third Headlands producing best. The spotties have been averaging 3kg to 5kg and the Spanish from 14kg to 30kg.
We fished Whitmores Reef at Boambee in a frustrating session, dropping a solid cobia near the boat and missing opportunities on spotties that couldn’t find the hooks in our double- and triple-hooked baits.
The Park Beach Bommie has been a hive of activity with schools of slimy mackerel and pilchards getting plenty of attention from anglers and tuna, mackerel and kingfish. Although there seems to be plenty of bait to the north of the harbour, the best fishing is to the south, probably due to a stronger current effect and more extensive reefs.
I ventured down to Hat Head recently and spun solidly for two mornings without so much as a look from any pelagic. Arriving back home and ready to put the high-speed sticks away for the season, I had a phone call from a friend staying at Hat Head who told me that the Spanish mackerel arrived en masse the day after I left.
Apparently the mackerel where hot on the tail of a massive mullet school and could be seen from the rocks feeding on the migrating mullet. Two young anglers spinning from Hungry Head were the first to come across the Spanish and had a great time, landing fish to 14kg on spin tackle.
The rocks and breakwalls around Coffs have been producing the odd, bluefin, cobia and Spanish. The southern wall has produced quite a few solid Spanish with best going 19kg on a live mullet early in the morning. It’s best to fish in overcast conditions with a bit of a bump running, which encourages the mackerel to come in close and discourages the boaties from getting in the way of a hook-up or spooking the small pods of fish that travel along the wash line.
There has been no shortage of bream, flathead, whiting and luderick for bait anglers, with the V-Wall at Urunga, Boambee Creek, Bonville Creek and Corindi Creek producing the best. Brett Young and I caught and released about 30 bream on small plastics in the Kalang River with flathead and trevally mixed in. Although the low and slow-flowing tide conditions did not promote optimum luring, we still managed to find about a dozen bream from 30cm to 37cm around sunken logs and overhanging banks.
In the brackish reaches jacks and trevally will chew for several months yet on lures and bait. At this time of year the bigger creeks with a bit more coastal current influence will hold jacks for the longest period, with the smaller creeks getting cold and jackless first.
Bass anglers continue to report good catches with the edges and gaps in lily beds producing great fishing on surface lures and hard-bodied divers. Fly-casters have reported fish to almost 60cm taking surface flies in the early morning, late afternoon and at night.
Beach anglers have been doing it tough in recent times with small tailor and the odd school jewfish making up the better catches. Over the next month the mullet run should bring the jew and greenback tailor inshore looking for an easy meal. Many of these big predators leave the offshore islands and reefs to spend late Autumn feeding on the schooling fish such as mullet, bream, luderick and slimy mackerel.
Anglers who are prepared to make the effort with their bait, either fresh tailor, mullet or slimies, will as usual be the ones who get the big fish.
Brett Young, of gladiator Tackle, with a Coffs Harbour spotted mackerel.
The author with some kings from the stones.
Brett Young with a Bellinger River bass which engulfed a pink popper.Reads: 1987