The coast is clear
  |  First Published: August 2004

BECAUSE fishing quietens down a bit around Tamworth at this time of year, I often head over to the coast for a change.

I was doing demos at the Coffs Harbour 4WD, Caravan and Camping Show – so I a perfect excuse to wet a line after work. Not having the time to hunt around for fresh bait, I settled on frozen squid from the bait shop.

On the beach that night, I met a couple of guys chasing salmon. They were great to talk to made it an enjoyable evening with several shovel nosed rays, one big bream and a school jew around 3kg were all we encountered.

The next day’s weather was almost perfect and I shot down to a local creek and scored a couple of small to medium lizards on fly.

Then it was time to prepare for a jew session that evening. The bait again had to be bought, as time was precious and I was travelling too light for gear for keeping live bait. I finally found some fresh, unfrozen squid around 30cm long.

I was using a new beach outfit, a Penn 3.9-metre (13’) Spinfisher Big Game surf rod with a Penn 560 Slammer threadline spooled with about 350 metres of Platypus Super Braid.

For beach jew I love braid if no rocks are nearby, but my rigging changes a little. I use around four to five metres of 30lb Platypus Pre Test joined with a bimini twist and braided loop knot to the braid. I connect this to my swivel and a metre of 30kg Platypus Big Game or 25kg Pre Test leader.

I use two Gamakatsu or Mustad Octopus hooks around 4/0 size. I snell the upper hook and use either a palomar or locked blood knot to the bottom hook.

The spacing between the hooks depends on the size of the bait, usually between 10cm and 15cm. The sinker can be relatively small as the braid cuts through the water much easier than thicker nylon, reducing side drag.

I also slide on a tiny pea sinker or a small plastic bead between the beach sinker and the swivel to stop the sinker hole locking onto the knot. The last thing you want is a jew feeling unnatural weight as it moves off with the bait and mostly they then drop it pretty quickly.

Rigging one of the big squid, I walked down to the break and lobbed out. Not being used to the rod, the cast went much farther than expected. I wound in around 20 metres of line and planted my bum on the sand.


Ahh, the relaxation you get from beach fishing is unbeatable. But about 30 seconds of relaxation was all I got as the rod slammed down.

Instinctively, I set the hook and met an awesome display of power as around 25kg or 30kg of jew came to the surface in the dimming light and exploded, thrashing in the surf. Shocked at this unusual visual display, I stood on the beach watching line pouring out to sea under smooth, heavy drag. Around the 100-metre mark, the fish slowed and began to run south along the beach.

A rocky headland near the gutter I was fishing screamed ‘bust-off’ and with everything loaded to the max, the bugger just swam into the rocks.

Around the bommie it went, still powering away. The inevitable happened and as I wound in the limp line, I was still recalling the surface-thrashing display it bunged on. It’s something I’ve never seen a jew do before, especially not in deep water.

I decided to make an even longer leader, around six metres, just in case a repeat episode was on the cards.

About then I met a young fella, a pharmacist who was doing a stint in Coffs for a couple of months, and as I was re-rigging I relayed the story to him. I lobbed out another bait, which lasted all of about five minutes before it was engulfed by a more manageable fish of around 6kg or 7kg.

As I re-rigged, the fella was full of questions about rigging and bait presentation, which I love to show people willing to listen. That’s the way I learnt, by listening to old guys with the runs on the board.

We sat talking for a while when I got another run and soon around 8kg of jew was alongside his mate. I am a real fan of jew as table fish but I told my new mate, “If I get any more they go back, after all I don’t eat that much fish.”

As he was wandering off I landed another jew around 8kg. It swam out through the waves and, as I was walking back to my tackle, I looked around and couldn’t believe that no one else was on the beach. The weather was terrific the fish were biting, the sea was perfect and I had it all to myself within a very short distance of the CBD.

I write this because I think people get too caught up in the ‘perfect’ tides, moon phases and times for certain species and yet many fish are caught when there is supposed to be nothing about.

Most times there certainly is a successful activity pattern for most saltwater species but I fish every chance I get and if that means I have to settle for less than ‘accepted’ perfect conditions, so be it – I’m still going, even if just for the relaxation.

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