A little rain over the past month has made all the difference to the creek and river fishing along the Coffs Coast with bass, bream, trevally, flathead, whiting and school jew responding to a slight discolouring of the water.
In the upper reaches of most rivers there has been a half-metre rise in water levels, allowing easier canoe access to pockets of water that only weeks ago needed plenty of dragging to get into.
Mick Colless and I went bassing in the full fresh last weekend and released over 20 fish to 43cm for the morning. Most were taken on soft plastics with Bass Minnows and Atomic Fat Grubs fished on 1/16oz jig heads proving successful when carefully cast next to snags, deep rock banks and the shadowy edges of weed beds.
In the past four bass trips we've landed two fish over 50cm fork length, both taken down deep on plastics. Hard-bodied shallow divers and surface lures have also been taking fish but not of the same quality as those caught on the deeper plastics.
Once the Summer heat arrives and top-to-bottom weed growth starts to take over large stretches of river there will not be as many opportunities to fish deep plastics. If you want to get among the big fish I suggest you get out there now and make the most of the last of the cool water.
As yet I haven't heard any reliable reports of jacks taking lures or bait but by the time this mag hits the newsagent there will be some jacks staring to poke up-river into the skinny-water zones, where they'll stay and terrorise anglers for most of the warmer months.
It's interesting to note that some of the best jack creeks along this stretch of the coast are what they are because of limited boat access and the lack of high-density housing that you find along places such as the Gold Coast hinterland.
Coffs’ creeks still have tree-lined banks and many are accessible only by car-toppers and canoes. Although painful at times, it is this lack of accessibility that has kept the fishing great and slowed down those who love nothing more than to live-bait and kill dozens of skinny-water jacks all day and all night.
The better the boat access, the worse the jack fishing, but nowadays staying away from the human footprint is getting harder and harder to achieve.
The latest council-sanctioned vandalism is about to happen just to the north of Coffs, with thousands of houses and a boat ramp at Moonee Creek surely spelling the end of what is currently a relatively unspoilt waterway.
This creek is a local favourite of mine and watching it go downhill is going to hurt. The first time I went there I saw an eagle fly by with a live 1kg jack in its talons!
If the State Government was serious about protecting the aquatic environment I suggest they shut down the Marine Parks offices along the North Coast, sell all the assets, save on wages by sending all the no-brainers back to Sydney or uni, auction off all the boats, 4WDs and so on and purchase all the land directly surrounding creeks like Moonee that are going to be under the developers’ greedy noses over the next decade.
It looks like the baby boomer army’s insatiable craving to retire somewhere ‘nice’ is about to strike again. RIP Moonee Creek.
Along the beaches there have been reports of school jew taking beach worms and tailor fillets on the tide changes, with Hills and Sapphire beaches producing the most consistent after-dark fishing.
Those chasing whiting, bream, dart and flathead from the sand can't go past Boambee Beach, with its 4WD access and easy-to-reach gutters. Anglers fishing with beach worms, pipis or nippers consistently come home with mixed bags of quality fish and those fishing after dark often spruce up their catch with school jew and massive bream over 2kg.
For big after-dark bream and school jew try using long cut fillets of fresh, unfrozen tailor or mullet.
Rock anglers have been doing well on luderick and black drummer with all the milky washes producing exciting fishing on these hard-pulling herbivores.
I spun the rocks along the northern side of Charlesworth Headland during the week and came home with some fat tailor to about a kilo. Anglers tossing lures from the southern breakwall have reported resident tailor and schools of salmon coming through with reasonable regularity.
If you're not into lure-tossing then sending out a ganged pilchard under a bobby cork with night light attached will produce big tailor and salmon late in the afternoon and into the night.
Be careful if you're fishing any of the North Coast breakwalls after dark. They can be treacherous places for shaky footing and in any sort of ground swell you can expect waves to crash over the top.
Offshore fishing has been patchy with snapper anglers doing well one day and not the next. Snapper to 11kg have been caught over the past month with many anglers getting their bag limits on plate-sized fish, with the odd 2kg or 3kg specimen thrown in.
The pearl perch is a popular table fish in these parts and, along with teraglin, anglers heading a few more kilometres out to sea will find the reefs have good populations of pearlies, trag, kingfish, samson and other tasty reef-dwellers.
Anglers casting and trolling the washes around the Solitary Islands have reported kingfish and tailor with the bigger specimens responding well to slow-trolled slimy mackerel.
Although the marlin and yellowfin tuna fishing has been disappointing of late, there are some jumbo mahi mahi to over 20kg hanging around the FAD and deeper fish traps. Again, slow-trolled slimy mackerel will be the bait needed to tempt these acrobatic game fish.
Lily-bed bass can really fire up at times, as the results of this double hook-up show.
Dart are warm-water favourites because of their willingness to attack a beach bait.
Pelagics like the northern bluefin, left, and the Spanish mackerel will be with us soon.Reads: 781