Estuary and inshore run hot
  |  First Published: August 2009

Stable weather and clearing waters have combined for great fishing conditions along the Coffs Coast, with snapper and kingfish being popular offshore targets.

Chris Barry and I fished plastics off Macauleys Headland a few days ago and found plate-size squire and kings to 75cm keen to hit our lures on the drop in less than 20m of water.

Most fish took the lures on the first sink, or on the first or second hop over the underwater extension of the nearby headland.

Lure choice didn't seem to matter with all 6” varieties on 1/2oz heads and 20lb leader working well.

The only downside to this form of luring are the numbers of red rock cod that get in on the act. Not letting your lure settle on the bottom for too long seems to cut down the numbers of red rockies, but there's no doubt it also slows the snapper fishing.

Tailor are active in the washes of the prominent headlands with solid schools of fish feeding off Sawtell and Moonee in recent days.

The ability to cast a 40g to 85g metal a long distance is essential when chasing schooling tailor on the North Coast.

Often the best possies don't allow easy access to the clear water, so if you want to stay dry and safe, a long cast and long rods are the go.

If casting to the horizon is not your passion, the washes at Woolgoolga, Emerald Beach and Mutton Bird Island have been producing bigger resident choppers with plastics, poppers and big hard-bodied divers interesting fish to almost 2kg.

The broken headlands to the immediate north of town have been fishing well for school jewfish to 5kg or 6kg. Again, 6” plastics and 3/8oz jig heads seem to be doing the trick.

Fishing tide changes, especially at sunrise and sunset, is the way to go when luring jewfish from the rocks and beaches.


The Kalang River has been fishing fairly poorly for bream in recent weeks, with the Nambucca the better option for local lure-tossers.

Bream have been active on the deeper edges of the leases running parallel to the Pacific Highway, with metal vibes and plastics the best lure options.

Experienced catch-and-release anglers have been getting big numbers of fish, with quality sea-run bream to 36cm making exciting fishing.

Luderick anglers have been having a field day at the boardwalk at Urunga, the mouth of Sawtell Creek and the Nambucca Wall. The fish have turned up in numbers and they’re big, with bust-ups common for those who downsize their leaders too much.

A big luderick will pull a bream backwards. Long, sloppy rods that absorb the shock and a long-handled landing net are essential for this form of fishing so popular with the growing numbers of retires who call this part of the world home.

Mike Colless, my son Kurt and I went chasing bream and flathead down near Macksville and while the bream weren't as active as we'd hoped, the flathead and luderick that took an interest in our lures made for interesting luring.

In the quest for more bream action, I downsized my leader to 5lb fluorocarbon and paid the price three times, with solid silvers whiz-banging me back into the fixed oyster leases and under wave walls.

Mike had a bit more luck on the flatties and luderick, with his vibe producing a lovely catch of flathead fillets which my family devoured for dinner.


With the closed season for bass just about over, we'll be dusting off the baitcasters and threadlines in the quest for some great early season bassing on what are traditionally some of the biggest fish encountered throughout the year.

As Spring builds the bass will start taking surface lures after dark and although the weather is still cool, the hot fishing takes your mind off freezing hands, feet and noses.

The next month should also see the return of mangrove jacks to the local estuaries and harbours and for some reason this is the best time to throw lures for big jacks.

There aren't too many fish around but those that have moved in from the offshore reefs are rarely lure-shy and always big.

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