Since I last wrote the Coffs Coast has had several days of 110mm rainfall, 120kmh winds and seas up to four metres. At the peak of the storm that hit like a small cyclone, there were trees falling all over the place and local rivers rose up to five metres, with nearby Bellingen cut off for several days by floodwaters.
After all this you could hardly wipe the smiles of most of the local bass, bream and jack fishos, who saw the carnage in a slightly different light. The floodwaters have triggered a migration of bass and jacks into the upstream ‘tiger country’ and the number of new snags that have touched down in most tree-lined rivers is going to make some new and exciting fish habitat that anglers can aim their lures at over the Summer.
Last weekend I had my first jack trip of the season when Roger Oates and I peppered a local creek with lures and bait. We hooked five jacks but managing to land one only one 40cm fish, losing the other bigger specimens through two bust-ups and two pulled hooks.
Although the creek waters were almost chocolate-brown, trevally and jacks were on the job with many other surface explosions sighted as jacks, trevally and bream charged small fish and prawns into the bank before jumping all over them.
By the time you read this the upstream bass water should have some mind-blowing fishing on the surface and down deep as whole new wave of fish take up residence in the weed beds, next to rocky drop-offs and under logs.
A good flood is like a fresh canvas for a river and in many of our waterways it will clear out weed, deepen pools and improve fish habitat. Without the suffocating effects of weed, anglers will be able to fish deeper plastics and more traditional diving crankbaits into the middle of the day – an option that’s been sadly missing in the recent drought years.
If fishing in the sun is not your thing then surface lures fished early, late or in the middle of the night probably account for more trophy bass than any other form of lure on the North Coast. In my experience moonless nights fish best and, if you can, keep your torchlight off the water as the bass seem to get spooked by an overload of light.
On the beaches there have been some good-sized school jewfish caught with beach worms proving the best bait and Sapphire and North beaches having the best fishing.
Rock anglers have been getting tailor, drummer, snapper, salmon and mackerel tuna, with the odd cobia starting to poke around the deeper fringes. Mutton Bird Island and the southern breakwall have been the most successful rock possies for pelagics, with Charlesworth and Bundagen headlands producing the best drummer and bream.
Lure-tossers targeting jewfish have had some success to the north of Coffs, with Korora, Moonee and Station Creek the prime spots.
Offshore there have been reports of good snapper feeding within a kilometre or two of the coast and on the inshore reefs. Nambucca Heads, Urunga/Third Headland and Arrawarra are the prime big-snapper possies over Christmas. These same reefs will become the Spanish mackerel hot spots in the New Year.
A group of snapper anglers fishing less than a kilometre off Bundagen had an interesting experience recently when a five-metre white pointer surfaced next to their boat. The massive shark even managed to jump out the water, making a pretty big splash along the way.
I think I might stick to fishing and give the surfing a miss until the water warms up and the serious bities head back to southern climes.
Mike Colless debates how to land a solid oyster rack bream from the Kalang River.
Bellinger bass, such as this one taken by Mike Colless, should be revelling in their new habitat after recent flooding.
The author looks pretty happy with this bream.Reads: 611