Great Fishing at Coffs
  |  First Published: June 2008

Fishing along the Coffs Coast has been excellent when the conditions have allowed anglers to head to sea or drift baits and cast lures from the ocean rocks.

A few weeks of southeasterly winds have turned the inshore waters green and shut much of the fishing down. But on the days when the wind has backed off, there have been plenty of pelagics on offer. Spotten mackerel have been elusive for offshore boat anglers, although a good run of bigger Spanish mackerel have made up for the shortage of spotties. Two lucky anglers scored big mackerel of 33kg and 39kg from the washes around Pig Island, a small outcrop that lays only a few hundred metres off the southern break wall at Coffs.

Most of the bigger fish have been feeding inshore on pike, tailor and small bonito. Anglers heading offshore have missed out on the big fish and land based anglers and enterprising small boaters have scored the better fish close to home. I have heard reports of two mackerel at 14kg and 17kg taken from the rocks around Coffs on live baits.

Scott Amon has been getting amongst mackerel capturing a huge 8kg spottie and an even bigger 18kg Spanish. Both fish were taken on the Park Beach bommie during days when the seas were too big to venture offshore. When the seas have been flat there have been some large mackerel taken off Sawtell and Bundagen Headlands, most of these fish have been taking slow trolled, or drifted slimey mackerel baits.

We are having the best longtail tuna season for years, with several anglers developing sore arms from the extended fights that these big tuna can dish out. Chris Barry and myself got amongst cobia to 14kg about 500m out from Macauley's Headland. The fish were taken on Halco Laser Pros trolled through surface schools of visibly feeding fish. Offshore snapper chasers have been getting amongst big reds to over 7kg on soft plastics, with the extensive reef system to the southeast of Split Solitary Island producing the best fishing on the drift.

Further offshore there have been wahoo over 20kg, as well as yellowfin tuna, sailfish and black marlin, all taking trolled high speed lures to the east of South Solitary Island. Along the Continental Shelf there have been reports of big blue marlin, as well as striped marlin and larger yellowfin tuna, most fish have taken trolled skirted pushers.

Rock anglers have found plenty of active jewfish to from 3-27kg that are prepared to take soft plastic lures or beach worm baits. Sawtell Headland is the pick of the rock spots, with the first of the runout tide in front of the creek mouth being a great spot for schoolies. The Gallows, Trap Doors and Tucker's Rocks are other jew spots to the south of town worth trying.

Tailor and kingfish have been hard to find in the warm water. The few tailor encountered have been bigger fish up to 3.5kg and have come from Mutton Bird Island, Station Creek and the end of the break wall at Urunga.

Estuary fishermen have reported large schools of whitebait in the lower reaches of the Bellinger, Kalang and Nambucca systems. Not surprisingly flathead and bream have been easy to find both on drifted whitebaits, or soft plastic presentations.

Further up river in the deeper water near the rail and road bridges there have been jewfish to 20kg hitting live baits and 6” soft plastic lures. When targeting these river jewfish you will need to use your sounder and concentrate on the drop-offs where water depth and baitfish activity coincide. Casting up current and bouncing your lures along the bottom is the most successful luring technique.

Over the next month I'll be heading down to Hat Head in search of pelagics on lures and closer to home I'll chase jew on baits and plastics. Once the water starts to clear and the westerlies begin the blow, I'll send smaller yellowtails baits seaward in the hope of a late season longtail tuna.

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