Fishing along the Coffs Coast has been interesting recently with snapper and kingfish dominating many offshore catches and luderick biting well in the estuaries.
Dave Rae has been landing snapper over 5kg using bait and soft plastic lures in water from 15 to 30 metres deep. Most of the bigger fish have come from the reefs off Urunga with smaller fish coming from closer to Coffs.
Dale Graham got among the sand flathead and pan-sized snapper while drifting off the harbour and there have been plenty of just-legal through to hoodlum kingfish around the washes at Pig Island, Split Solitary and South Solitary.
If you're after kingfish make the effort to catch live slimies from the Park Beach Bommie and then slowly troll them around the island washes. You'll need to use 15kg or 24kg kilo tackle with at least 28kg leader – at the moment there are some solid kings around so plenty of drag and rod in hand will give you the small opportunity needed to drag them away from the reef.
Anglers fishing from the South Breakwall, Boambee Beach and North Beach near Mylestrom have been landing bream to 1.5kg and salmon to 3kg on a variety of baits including pilchards and mullet.
For those wanting some great exercise and sport, walking along the deeper beaches casting 65g and 85g metal lures will see some great aerial action on salmon and tailor. The alternative is to 4WD to each gutter and work it over with long casts until a school of fish is found. Often bird activity out to sea wide of a gutter is an indicator of schooling predators inshore.
Some anglers prefer to fish for these species with ganged pilchards or sea garfish. Running a small bean sinker down to the ganged hooks means baits can be cast, allowed to wash around and then slowly worked back to the beach.
North Beach, near Repton, has also been producing good-sized whiting on beach worms, particularly at low tide.
On the northern beaches there have been bream and the tide changes are producing school jewfish to 5kg on a variety of baits including mullet, tailor, squid and beachworms.
Anglers casting soft plastics around the broken points have also been getting jewfish with most fish taking lures very late or early in the day. The secret to this type of luring is to cast out near broken water, let the lure sink and then slowly lift and drop it back to your feet. Fish will hit on the first drop, the first few hops and even when the lure is being lifted out of the water.
Off the headlands and breakwalls tailor and bream have been biting well with slow-action metals working well off Mutton Bird Island and the Quarry.
There have been some big pigs caught at Bundagen, Charlesworth, Sandy Beach and Woolgoolga headlands on cunje baits.
Anglers chasing luderick have been finding fish at the mouths of Bonville, Moonee and Corindi Creeks, while the boat ramp or harbour inner walls are worth trying in heavy seas. River anglers have been getting solid fish from the breakwalls at Urunga and Nambucca using cabbage weed on the falling tide.
In the freshwater there have been plenty of bass around for those wanting to fish plastics during the day or surface lures at night.
Steve Ritchie from Macksville caught and released his first ever bass the other day on the Bellinger River, a 55cm fish that took a small hard-bodied lure over a weed bed just on dark.
Steve met John Bethune at the Sydney Boat Show and excitedly recounted the capture. John and I both mentioned to Steve that it might be a while before he cracks another fish this size.
I took my boys and a few mates fishing for bream from the boat landing on the Coffs Jetty and we had a ball. Provided you use plenty of bread berley, lightly-weighted split-shot rigs and a small hook you'll find that there are enough yellowtail, slimy mackerel and bream around to keep the kids busy and put a good meal on the table.
Estuary lure anglers have been finding bream and trevally in the Kalang and Nambucca rivers with most action around the oyster leases on the run-out tide.
The fishing will remain consistent for the next month with the water temps probably reaching their lowest ebb before starting to warm up into Spring. Jewfish, pigs, bream and bass will be on my inshore/estuary target list, while I might do some kingfish trolling if the seas are favourable.
Shallow estuaries such as Coffs Creek will warm up first for whiting and flathead.
The author with an average king. Make the effort to catch live bait and you’re in with a chance.
Bellinger River bass have been biting freely, as this double hook-up shows.Reads: 1560