Aiming for clearer water
  |  First Published: December 2007

With plenty of consistent rain hopefully behind us, it will be interesting to see how the fishing in the Coffs region bounces back from the brown creeks and inshore waters.

Prior to the wet we had plenty of bass in the rivers, jacks in the creeks, jew on the beach and snapper over the reefs. Like most places around the country, fishing with 4” to 6” soft plastics has taken Coffs by storm in recent times with snapper and jewfish the two most popular targets from land and sea. The Dave Irvine Memorial Snapper Luring Tournament, won by Michael Guest with a massive 87cm fish, has generated much interest with many of the inshore reefs once considered too shallow to worry about suddenly developing names and becoming snapper hot spots.

Along with snapper there has been a host of by-catch species such as kings, tailor, jew and pearl perch. Once considered a relatively deep-water delicacy, it's surprising how many pearlies, some over 3kg, are falling to soft plastics in water as shallow as 10m. Catch just one 3kg pearlie and you've certainly put some value back on the dinner table for your bag of plastics.

After a slow start to the Summer rock and beach season it seems that there are some good tailor and jewfish starting to bite, with beach worms and lures sorting out the jew on the Northern Beaches and Sawtell Headland.

With the rivers still flowing brown, the mouths of creeks such as Bonville at Sawtell have been jewfish hot spots with schoolies taking worm and strip baits during the run-out tide in the first couple of hours from sunset.


Tailor lure- and bait tossers having been getting good fish to 2kg at Woolgoolga, Emerald, Moonee, Charlesworth, Mutton Bird and the Quarry.

There are still some salmon hanging around but the warm currents starting to trickle into the area will soon push the schools south to whence they came.

Offshore, snapper, trag, jew and kingfish have been the popular targets with the islands and deeper reefs producing mixed bags for bait and lure anglers. If you're after a big kingfish or jew, try using live slimy mackerel or yellowtail for bait. Send the livies down to the bottom over reef and hold on.

On the beaches there have been some big whiting in the gutters with Boambee, Bonville, Woolgoolga Back Beach and North Beach the pick of the spots for light-tackle bait fishing with worms, nippers or pipis.

At night or around the tide changes there have been plenty of school jew taking worms at Hills and Sapphire beaches with bigger fish taking strip baits at the same possies.


Over the next month I'll being spending plenty of time up-river chasing mangrove jacks with a mixture of live mullet baits and lures. If you are targeting jacks then do the fish a favour and fish heavy – leaving half a dozen fish every session with traces and hooks hanging out of their mouths doesn't do them too many favours.

When live-baiting I don't fish any lighter than 80lb leader, double and 30lb braid main line and you'll also need a barra-style rod that won't bend too much with a locked up drag.

Nowadays I add about 60cm of 40lb single-strand wire to the ends of all my jack leaders. It’s the only thing that stops the bigger fish from busting me up on the barnacle-encrusted wormy wood.

Bass fishing should hit full tilt any day now. Once the cicada noise becomes deafening it’s time to get out the surface lures and go bassing.

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