All the summer fish are now on the bite with the river, the beaches and the headlands producing quality catches.
Offshore fishos had a great run of snapper and are now eagerly awaiting the first big run of mackerel in Shark Bay.
The beach action has been great with a big run of large whiting. Most beaches with decent gutters have had these fish in good numbers with Back Beach the pick spot. Live beachworms are a must so take the time to collect good quality bait. Local fishos say you shouldn’t use heavier than 6lb line for the big ones.
Those chasing flathead off the beaches have been doing very well with Shark Bay the best producer with white pillies and soft plastics. The big secret is to keep moving from gutter to gutter for best results. Small, shallow gutters usually hold the best fish.
Jewie-chasers willing to hike in and carry out their catch have had some excellent beach fishing. Baits and large soft plastic lures have been the most successful with many fishos using both methods. Shelly Beach has been the hot spot on the Yamba side. In the north, Black Rock is the place to be.
Off the rocks we have seen some good snapper to 6kg around Woody Head. Best bait has been octopus with one large leg fed onto a 5/0 hook like a worm.
Occy is the bait of choice because it is tough, can be cast a long way and the small pickers will be there all day before they will do any damage to the bait. Then you have a bait in the water when it counts and don’t spend all your fishing time re-baiting.
Numbers of big trevally are still on the bite at Iluka Bluff. Large poppers are your best bet and if you really want to have some fun, take your hooks off and tease the fish into a feeding frenzy. You will be surprised at just how long a fish will hold on.
When you find that really big one, it’s time to put a lure on with hooks and be prepared for some backbreaking work. Best colours are white with a red head or bright green.
Off the breakwalls the tuna are showing with the Iluka Wall best early in the season. Most of the tuna are only small and ideal for bait; now is the time to stock up the freezer.
The northern bluefin will be due later this month with the main body of fish here some time in February. This is when the most exciting land-based fishing happens with all those big black torpedoes speeding along the wall.
A speeding popper on a collision course can produce a spectacular surface explosion. This is probably the pinnacle of sight casting around here and with fish to 28kg you know what you’re in for before you even set the hook.
In the river the whiting are on the bite with most of the recognised spots producing. Live worms and yabbies are doing the damage and with Sleeper Island being the best spot at night.
Those taking up the challenge of the daytime flats fishing are also having fun. To try your hand at catching these fish on lures, see Chris Rigg at Fully Rigged Bait and Tackle – he showed me. It is exciting and visual and you can be guaranteed there won’t be a crowd, as there are only a few fishos who have perfected this style of fishing.
The sandy flats are now holding good school flathead with the North Arm and Oyster Channel best. Those in search of the larger flathead will find them in deeper water along the walls.
Bait and lures are working with Atomic 5” grubs and Berkley Gulps my choices. Fish the shallow flats on the rising tide and the deeper drop-offs on the falling tide.
The warm weather has also brought the mangrove jacks on the bite with some lure fishos chasing bream coming home with stories of smoking reels. The rock bars around Maclean are a good place to start. You can also find them around many of the bridges, Browns Rocks and Yamba Marina.
Offshore those big snapper will slow down with most fishos now looking to the pelagic season ahead. With good cobia starting to show along with lots of small tuna and some big schools of baitfish, it could all happen any day now.
Those chasing snapper on soft plastics have had a great year with most trips producing fish. Woody Head has been the hot spot with Black Rock now producing the better fish, including a big by-catch of jewfish.
Last month I said I needed to go on another fishing trip south to learn more about those southern black bream. I did and four days at Mallacoota was just what I needed.
It has a good range of fishing from deep water to snags and my favourite, sight-casting to kilo-plus bream in the shallows. If you’re planing a trip south, put Mallacoota on your list.