LAST month we had some of the best weather for years here on the Mid North Coast. Virtually every day was windless, warm and barely a cloud in the sky.
There was virtually no swell for weeks and the water was warm and blue and full of co-operative fish. If you weren’t happy with that sort of fantastic weather and fishing conditions, you’re very hard to please indeed.
At the time of writing the skies are still blue and beaming down warm sunlight but I suspect very soon the reality of early Winter will greet us, so get outside and enjoy the fantastic weather because it’ll soon be replaced by cool southerlies, cloudy skies and cool water.
So what’s been biting? More to the point, what hasn’t been biting? Probably the most eagerly awaited fish to arrive in numbers were the spotted mackerel and on the eleventh hour, they finally showed up in force with plenty of quality fish in the 4kg to 6kg class. The locals were getting worried they wouldn’t show at all, so to get such a good run (albeit extremely late) was a welcome bonus indeed.
Surprisingly, the close grounds, just off Grassy Head, were pretty well a waste of time for the spotties, with virtually all the action taking place on the middle grounds, roughly 2km from shore. There were probably a few fish on the wide grounds but there have been plenty enough on the middle grounds to keep us busy.
Thankfully, catching live baits hasn’t been a big problem with reasonable supplies of slimy mackerel in Trial Bay near the one remaining buoy. The Coffs Harbour Co-operative put this buoy in place for the greedy longliners. It’s basically a band-aid solution to take the pressure of the local slimy population at Coffs. So now we get even more longliners flogging the place and steaming out wide to kill the remnant yellowfin tuna schools.
Speaking off all things greedy, the North Wall has now got it’s semi permanent beach hauler camp set-up. Every year without fail, rusting 4WDs and ageing timber boats full to the brim with gillnets inundate this pretty stretch of beach. Virtually all night, spotlights flash across the water as 4WDs run the full length of the beach, desperate to see anything with fins worth running a net around.
If you or I set up camp for two months and littered the beach with 4WDs and boats, we’d be thrown off in the blink of an eye. For some reason the council turns a blind eye and every year they arrive, contribute virtually nothing and take the away valuable fish that draw many holidaymakers to the area from far and wide.
Hopefully one day we’ll see beach hauling banned completely, or at the very least some serious restrictions on where and when they can camp and net. As it stands, the whole scenario is ludicrous, helping no one other than the out-of-town netters.
On a more positive note, there’s some pretty good fishing at present, particularly offshore. Kingfish have returned to Fish Rock and Black Rock after a fairly long absence. Most are fairly small but there’s nearly always a few big fellows milling around below the rats. Fish up to 12kg have been landed recently, with quite a few bigger fish finding their freedom on the rugged bottom.
If your timing is good you may find a cobia or two just off the jail or around Green Island. They’ve been a little hit-and-miss (aren’t they always?) but when they have been around some nice fish have been mixed in with the standard 6kg to 10kg fish.
I managed a personal best the other week, a cobe going 32kg (70.4lb) on a live slimy mackerel dropped to the bottom. I’d forgotten how powerful the buggers were and I was dragged all over the place for nearly an hour on 8kg gear before the big bruiser finally threw in the towel.
In the same location there was a sizable white pointer shark, estimated at well over 500kg and around five metres long. Apparently it shortened up a few cobia and wandered off to the north. A few days earlier it was at Hat Head, where one local told me it ate a 30kg hammerhead boat side before disappearing into the depths.
Nearly every year we get some seriously big whites cruising up the coast. Usually it’s around Christmas, so this big girl is either slightly late or way too early. Either way, it puts a new perspective on diving the inshore islands and headlands during the warmer months.
Those fishing the local headlands and beaches are running into a few nice tailor and bream. During the dark of the moon some good jewfish have been taken, especially around the rocks near Green Island and under Gibraltar.
We can expect the tailor run to improve markedly in the next few weeks, with the bonus of some nice mulloway following the schools. I’ve seen some big cobia hounding the tailor so don’t be too surprised if your after dark mulloway session produces a big cranky cobe.
In the Macleay River it’s all systems go for quality bream around the river mouth. There are pretty good supplies of fish from Jerseyville to the mouth, so it’s more a matter of picking a likely spot and flicking a few baits or lures around.
Those fishing after dark usually find the bigger class of fish, especially when using a steady trail of berley and virtually unweighted baits. Lure fishos flicking soft plastics and small hard-bodied minnows around can expect some good bream, especially if low tide coincides with dawn or dusk.
Mulloway activity has picked up a bit since last month as the mullet schools build prior to their precarious run that usually sees them netted right at the river mouth. The mulloway have been with the mullet schools, which seem to move around daily. Basically, find the bait and you should find a mulloway or two.
Bass anglers are still pinning a few fish up-river and I suspect soon many fish will be getting ready for their annual run down to the brackish water. If you’re keen to find a few bass on surface lures, get out now because soon they’ll slow considerably on top.Reads: 430