Anglers along the Coffs Coast have been enjoying warm, stable conditions that have allowed for plenty of enjoyable days fishing.
Freshwater anglers have been successfully targeting bass in recent weeks with the tidal zones in the Nambucca system and the non-tidal zone in the Bellinger producing fish from 30cm to 47cm.
The brackish stretches in the Bowraville and Scotts Head reaches of the Nambucca system traditionally fish well early in the season with catches including bass, bream, school jew and flathead.
The Bellinger tends to be a much more of a freshwater affair with the best bass fishing occurring from Gordonsville back to town. We fished the salt from Fernmount back to the Pacific Highway last weekend and got a good bag of flathead, dropped a jew and watched three locals in a canoe land a solid school jew in the brackish.
If you are fishing the brackish reaches for bream, bass or flathead then the run-out tide is the best bet with deep holes, bends in the river, artificial structure and snags great places to target your casting.
Aiming up-current and working your soft plastic or hard-bodied lure slowly back through a prominent eddy is generally the best way to fish.
Back down in the full salt, there have been enough bream on the leases and flathead around the drop-offs to keep lure anglers interested, although the fishing is only a shadow of what it will be when large numbers of these schooling species head up-river to live during the warmer months.
We fished the floating leases near Mylestrom without much success recently but I'm told the leases at Nambucca have reasonable numbers of bream hanging around them. During these cool, clear-water days smaller plastics seem to outfish the larger ones with lures around 2” proving deadly on fish holding deep and very close to structure.
Around the river and harbour breakwalls there have been good catches of big bream, tailor, salmon and the odd jewfish. The South Wall has been particularly good for bait fishing for bream with mullet strips and live nippers.
Tailor have been keen to take lures in recent times with slowly worked metals providing consistent action on tailor to 1.5lg and salmon to 3kg.
When fishing for bream, cast your baits into the wash zone at the base of the breakwall, while tailor and salmon will hit your lures anywhere from the outer blue water to the wash at your feet.
Now is one of the few times of year that you can actively target salmon from the North Coast rocks and beaches. Good places to start looking are the Gallows/Quarry area, Boambee Beach and the mouth of the Bellinger/Kalang system at Mylestrom.
Salmon will hit a lure retrieved faster than tailor will and are excellent sport on tackle from 3kg to 8kg.
Offshore there have been reports of yellowfin, mahi mahi and blue marlin out at the shelf with schools of smaller ’fin working the outer tips of some headlands.
LBG freaks take note: A mate was spinning Hat Head for tailor last weekend and hooked what he called for a 30kg yellowfin that tied him up for 30 minutes before rubbing him off on the point.
Spring is traditionally your best chance of getting inshore yellowfin. Places like Hat Head, Dunbogan/Diamond Head, Cape Hawke, Booti Booti, Elizabeth Beach and Seal Rocks have track records on fin at this time of year. The quartz seam at Seal Rocks is one of the best-kept ’fin secrets.
Inshore lure and bait anglers have been landing plenty of snapper with some fish pushing 9kg. Most of the big fish have been taken in 30 to 50 metres of water and well-presented floating baits are doing the damage.
With so many island washes along the Coffs Coast there is a growing band of offshore anglers who forgo fishing the depths in preference to flicking lures and baits into the suds.
South Solitary Island has produced snapper, drummer, bream and tailor for bait-tossers, as well as XOS tailor and kingfish for lure-casters. Dave Findlay and mates got all of these species working the washes at South Solitary and at Black Rock to the north.
Over the next month I'll plan my first bass expedition for the Spring season with canoes, camping and whitewater being the top priorities for this trip. Rivers such as the Macleay and Clarence are hard to go past when it comes to new-season expeditions.
In the salt I'll continue my quest for jew on plastics from the rocks and I might even team up with a mate and have a go at a few bream comps.
Tailor will remain keen on lures for the next few months.
A strange tailor spinning by-catch – an accidentally hooked luderick.
Canoes, camping and some 4WD work are part of the fun of bass fishing.Reads: 1215