Hopes for a patch of blue
  |  First Published: March 2008

While rain is always welcome, it's still good to see a couple of days of blue skies without any cloud coming in.

While flood levels mostly have not been high in local rivers, there has still been enough brown water around to make the fishing tough. As I write, the rivers are starting to clear up and the blue current has all but made its way to the rock shelves and beaches, bringing pelagic species from bonito to mackerel.

The storm activity and huge seas have made significant changes to the sand around headlands and beach gutters. In some cases it has improved the fishing options while some of my favourite jew ledges are now high and dry through most stages of the tide.

The area around Korora/Sapphire is very shallow and it looks as though I'm going to have to spend some time over Autumn prospecting new territory. I have heard of plenty of jew coming in on 6” plastics around the Gallows area – look for stirred-up sand on the edges of blue water near the mouths of gutters.

Having reignited my passion for surfing, I've been able to explore some beaches I don't normally frequent.

The options for jewfish near Mullaway, Sandy and Emerald beaches are probably guarded secrets that I shouldn't be writing about. I've heard some great stories about Sandy.

The only concern in many of these northern localities is not infringing the marine park zonings. Before fishing always carefully check your maps, as well as the blue poles that this layer of government spends a fortune putting up and maintaining around the place.

If they stopped wasting money on the wages and equipment that this ‘scientific-lifestyle’ industry draws out of environmental coffers, they might actually be able to make a difference to the North Coast marine environment by buying up the large tracts of still relatively cheap coastal land that are being developed on the doorstep of the marine park at places like Sapphire and Moonee beaches.

I can't really see the point of aggravating people with punitive fishing limits and pretending that this going to make any difference, particularly while urban runoff and habitat destruction are occurring right on the verges of still pristine creeks and beaches.

Marine parks are a political distraction that give people with marine-related degrees jobs out of the capital cities and make the non-fishing masses feel good. Unfortunately they draw money and attention away from real solutions, such as coastal land and pro fishing buyouts.

When the developers have made their money and finally got enough in their coffers to afford the lifestyle they so richly deserve, the remaining wildlife and environmentally-minded locals are left to pick up the pieces. Living and fishing in an area that is getting raped by over-development before your eyes is a sobering experience.

Not considering the whole, but only the parts, rarely works in any ecosystem; the North Coast is case in point.


We fished Bonville Creek recently and found the water was still full fresh well below the rail bridge. As expected we caught no jacks and saw only the odd GT bust through mullet schools around a few of the better snags.

On this trip I suffered the embarrassment of having my jack rod pulled from my grasp when a big freshwater eel caught me off guard. Yet again, my mate Dale Graham saved the day by jumping overboard and rescuing the expensive outfit.

When he should have been fishing, Dale got smashed by stormwaters during a three day paddle down the Nymboida a few weeks ago. He lost Shirley Bassy, his red Coleman canoe, plus a lot of gear stowed in drums.

If any reader comes across the gear or canoe on future expeditions, please email me. Before the rain hit Dale and his party had plenty of success catching and releasing some big bass.

Offshore there have been reports of mackerel coming from the reefs at Bundagen, Whitmores and McCauleys. Most spotties have been between 3kg and 6kg with Spanish mackerel to 17kg taking trolled pike and slimy mackerel.

Snapper from 1kg to 6kg have been taking plastics and some big snapper have been taken by those casting baits at the bomies just off most of the northern beaches.

Longtail and mackerel tuna have been taken from Mutton Bird Island and the South Wall/Quarry. Be careful if the seas are big – LBG is one of the most dangerous forms of fishing, particularly during the landing stages.



Mutton Bird Island is a good LBG option at this time of year with plenty of pelagics likely to pass by.


Mackerel tuna, at left, and longtail tuna are always a strong chance off the Coffs rocks in March.


Mangrove jacks can be active this month, as long as the estuaries clear enough to have a crack at them.

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