As I write the cicadas are in full voice, the temperature is climbing and the barometer is reading ‘1020 and bass aplenty’.
There are plenty of fish on offer for both novice and expert. Yesterday I took my two younger boys for a fizzer session using the two North Coast-built fizzers, the Bill's Bug and the Koolabung Cicada.
We had an awesome morning with five bass from 42cm to 45cm and 20-plus bream smashing our surface offerings. We stopped for lunch at 1.30pm and after we'd eaten and I took a nap, the boys went catching cicadas.
Continuing our journey upstream, Nathan released a live cicada on the first snag we came to and within seconds his buzzing insect was snaffled by 42cm of bass. Although the fishing was slowing with lures, the boys had no trouble hooking up instantly on the two live cicadas.
It showed that only a small proportion of fish are prepared to hit a lure and there are a lot more fish in residence than our lures often tell us.
As with mangrove jacks and live mullet, it's not until you introduce live bait that you truly get a window into what numbers of fish are actually around. Presenting lures can lead to a deceiving measure of fish numbers.
In the local creeks there have been some big mangrove jacks and trevally taking lures and live baits, with the run-out tide in the morning or afternoon the best period for targeting jacks.
There's not a creek or river from Nambucca to the Queensland border that doesn't hold populations of mangrove jacks, all you need is to find dominant snags in deeper water and it will only be a matter of time before you get wiped out.
Local angler Paul Van Den Boom got more than he bargained for on his bream tackle with a big 2kg-plus GT giving him a work-out for half an hour before it was subdued. Paul foul-hooked a small mullet on a bream lure and then after adding some heavier leader, gave the mullet its marching orders; it didn't take the big blurter too long to find the bait.
The rocks and beaches have come alive, with schools of whitebait and pilchards visible at all times during the day. Tailor and jewfish have been taking lures and live baits from the broken headlands and in the deeper beach gutters.
Bait anglers have been getting jewfish on worms, cuttlefish and tailor fillets. Some big tailor have been landed after dark by jew-chasers while those throwing big metals and poppers have been getting kilo-plus tailor from Moonee, Emerald and Woolgoolga headlands.
Jew spinners have been doing it tough for months with a build-up of sand on the northern beaches shutting down many of the once-reliable locations. As a result the headlands from the Quarry and Sawtell to the south have been the better jew spinning possies of late.
Offshore there has been some talk of mackerel but once this column gets to you there should be both spotties and Spanish mackerel all over the inshore reefs and island washes.
Mackerel most frequently succumb to slow-trolled live slimy mackerel, pike, bonito or tailor. Bait can be caught over all the inshore reefs, although when the mackerel are thick it can be hard getting a loaded bait jig to the boat in one piece.
The three most popular mackerel reefs are Macauleys to the north of the harbour and Whitmores and Bundagen to the south.
As you would expect the fishing gets better the further you get from the Coffs boat ramp, with Third Headland to the south and Arrawarra to the north being popular spots for those willing to do beach launches.
This is the month when LBG anglers start getting among the longtail tuna with the odd mackerel thrown in for those with plenty of time on their hands.
Mutton Bird Island, Emerald and the Quarry are the most popular spots.
Catching live yellowtail bait will usually start in the harbour and require good fitness to get them to the rocks.
For those wanting to get away from the crowds and target mackerel with live tailor, there are other options at Sawtell, Charlesworth and Station Creek.
February is a great time to be canoe fishing in the headwaters – if flooding rain keeps away.
Bass lurk among the lilies waiting to ambush prey or slog it out with a happy fisho.
Charlesworth Headland is a good mackerel possie for those seeking to get away from the crowds.Reads: 926