OVER the next month fishing along the Coffs Coast will get as close to true cool-water scenarios as the spiralling currents of the Pacific will allow.
On the rocks and beaches the water temperature has dropped to 17° for the first time this year, which is great for bream, jewfish, black drummer, tailor and salmon. Anglers fishing the sand at Sapphire, Campbells, Hills, Park and North beaches have reported plenty of solid school jew to 7kg with a 30kg monster coming from down near Repton.
Fresh cut fish baits such as tailor or mullet work well on all classes of jew but, if you can get them, fresh squid are my favourite Winter jew bait.
Tailor and salmon are taking cast lures and ganged pilchards around the deeper headlands. Lure specialist Billy Livingston has been landing quality jew to 8kg throwing 4” soft plastic shads around the beach boulders at high tide. Billy also reports some good-sized tailor to 1.5kg hanging around the seaward sides of these inshore rock outcrops.
In the estuary there are plenty of luderick, bream over 40cm and some really big flathead poking around the edges of the ribbon weed in creeks such as Corindi, Bonville, and Boambee, and bigger rivers such as the Kalang, Bellinger and Nambucca.
Anglers fishing the brackish reaches with plastic grubs have reported mixed bags of bream, bass, flathead and even luderick.
Surprisingly, anglers fishing in the full fresh have reported plenty of bass on the chew with small plastics on 1/8oz jig heads working during the day and surface lures doing the job in low light and after dark. We fished the freshwater reach of a local river last week and landed more than a dozen bass on plastics and surface lures, the best bass going 45cm.
Bream anglers have reported consistent catches around the oyster leases on the Nambucca and Kalang rivers with 1/16oz jig heads and 2” grubs cast on ultra light-threadline tackle.
Mike Colless has been landing good catches of bream with small trevally and flathead making up the numbers. At this time of year we find that the burn retrieve, which involves dragging the lure quickly through the water running parallel to floating or fixed structure, will get the fish excited in the clear conditions.
The key to successful breaming over the next few months will be the tides, with the run down from high our favourite time. The adage ‘no run, no fun’ will remain true until the warmer, more discoloured water arrives.
Heavy seas in recent weeks have sent schools of big bream and luderick into the sheltered waters of river mouths and breakwalls. Small creeks such as Moonee, Boambee and Corindi have produced consistent catches of luderick to 1.5kg.
When they can get to sea, boaties have been landing a wide range of species including snapper to 11kg, pearl perch to 2kg, jewfish to 16 kg, kingfish to 17 kg, venus tusk fish to 3 kg and even spotted mackerel to 7 kg.
A stack of reefs and islands to explore lie off Coffs and the fishing can be as different as your tastes allow. There are some huge tailor to 5kg and hoodlum kingfish in the washes around the Solitary Islands and anglers tossing metals or poppers can have a stack of fun on the eastern sides of most islands.
Snapper anglers are reporting daily bag-limit catches with most of the really big fish coming from the shallow reefs off Urunga and Third Headland.
The quality of the fishing along the Coffs Coast never ceases to amaze me. For example, the biggest Spanish mackerel landed this season was just over 32kg, a huge fish by anyone’s standards. Closer to the harbour, snapper fishermen don’t always get among the really big fish but if you’re prepared to send down fresh baits on dropper rigs you will still catch your bag limit of tasty plate-sized fish.
Over the coming month I’ll continue to chase tailor and jew around the washes and, if the seas allow, I’ll take out my small boat and live-bait some of the inshore reefs for big kingfish. Last season the bait ground reefs produced plenty of action on mack tuna to 8kg and kings to 18kg.
With bass like this around in Winter it’s no wonder they’re on the agenda.
The author with a beach school jew – expect more of these this month.
Squid is prime jew bait at this time of year.
Brett Young with a solid Kalang River bream.Reads: 1955