Macks take centre stage
  |  First Published: March 2009

Offshore fishing has taken centre stage around Coffs Harbour with spotted and Spanish mackerel taking trolled live slimy mackerel baits and the odd lure.

Spotties to 6kg and Spanish from 8kg to 18kg have been found on the reefs off Charlesworth, Boambee, Sawtell and Bundagen headlands with the odd fish hitting lures trolled between reefs.

Catching live bait has been difficult in close, with most anglers sounding the deeper reefs for their slimies.

Farther offshore there have been good-sized mahi mahi around the wave recorder and FAD and there have been some big blue marlin to 150kg and smaller striped and black marlin taking trolled baits and lures over the shelf.

There have been massive schools of undersize kingfish feeding on the surface around the inshore islands along with greenback tailor and the odd giant Spanish mackerel. A mate who was fly-fishing for kings saw two Spaniards pushing 30kg follow a hooked king to the boat.

Snapper, teraglin and pearl perch have been biting well on bait and lures but you'll need to fish water from 30m to 60m.

On the rocks there have been kings, tailor and the odd bonito taking lures and small live baits from Mutton Bird Island, the South Wall and the Quarry.

Jewie-chasers have been getting the odd fish on soft plastics with the broken northern headlands producing jew to 8kg and the odd big tailor. There are small tailor on the beaches along with good bream, whiting, dart and flathead.

Fishing near creek mouths has been productive for mixed bags, while farther along most beaches will see catches dwindle to dart and whiting only.

Boambee and North beaches have been fishing particularly well with nippers, pipis and beach worms.


In the estuaries there have been large numbers of flathead taken on baits and lures, with those fishing within a kilometre of the ocean mouths on the Kalang, Bellinger and Nambucca rivers getting the most fish.

Farther upstream in these same systems, bream have been taking surface lures under trees and hard-bodied shallow divers around the floating and fixed oyster leases. The smaller creeks, such as Coffs, Boambee, Bonville, Newport and Deep, normally fish well this time of year for whiting and flathead near the mouths and bream, jacks and trevally farther upstream.

A distinct lack of cicada activity has made the bass unusually shy for this time of year but those who persist with surface lures have been rewarded with spectacular surface strikes at any stage of the day.

The key to all-day surface luring is to find pockets of shadow and land your casts within these zones. Casting to deeper areas that have full sunlight will rarely draw interest from fish.

Shallow water with shadow and cover will still fish well all day long.

Mangrove jacks have been consistent for those willing to go the extra mile with baits and rigging; we hooked six fish the other day from one snag and the best of the four we landed went 46cm.

Over coming weeks I'll continue to target jacks and bass in the creeks and head out to sea to chase mackerel when the conditions are favourable.

For jacks, I'll cast barra-type shallow-running lures and drift live poddy mullet under floats. Deeper areas with sunken snags or coffee rock fish well for these structure-orientated predators.

Offshore, I'll slowly troll live baits around the inshore reefs and islands. Even if the mackerel don't co-operate, I'm usually able to rustle up a mixed bag of kings, tailor and tuna.

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