Beautiful weather and warming seas have brought out the best in fish and fishers along the Coffs Coast, with an increased number of people hitting the water to try their luck.
For offshore anglers snapper have been the No 1 target with good numbers of fish coming from the reefs to the immediate north and south of the Harbour.
As you'd expect, anglers fishing locations well away from major boat ramps, such as at Arrawarra, Woolgoolga, Third Headland and Nambucca, have been enjoying exciting fishing on good numbers of bigger snapper to 10kg.
Most fish have been taking 6” and 8” soft plastics on the first or second drop, in water from 10m to 30m. Jigheads around 3/8oz, 10kg leader and 10kg braid make a popular tackle combination.
If fishing near kelp beds I'd recommend upgrading your leader and mainline to 15kg – pulling fish out of kelp is never easy.
If launching a boat from a beach or river mouth is not your thing, putting in at the Coffs Boat Ramp will still be a gateway to some great fishing. The reefs between Split and South Solitary islands to the north and Sawtell/Bundagen to the south have been producing good reds on plastics and bait.
This month we should see some great action on bigger kingfish and amberjacks out in water to 60m just wide of South Solitary Island. Live slimy mackerel or yellowtail and fresh squid always seem to interest this hard-pulling species.
Out on the continental shelf, big-boat anglers have found striped marlin, striped tuna, mako sharks and yellowfin tuna.
This month usually heralds the arrival of inshore yellowfin tuna schools along the North Coast.
If there are good numbers of slimies over the inshore reefs, then the ’fin will bite well on trolled lures and live baits.
In past seasons most fish have ranged from 10kg to 20kg and have come within a few hundred metres of the shore at Macauleys Headland and Emerald Headland.
LBG fishers who want to crack a ’fin from the rocks should listen to the reports from small-boat anglers and if the ’fin turn up, spots like Hat Head, Mutton Bird Island and the like are worth visiting.
On the beaches, a good run of school jewfish has continued at Sapphire and Woolgoolga Back Beach, with beach worms the gun bait.
I did hear a story the other day of a young fella and his dad who got a nice 4kg jew on bacon rind when fishing for bream in the corner at Campbells. Like most incidental jewfish captures, the fish was taken just on dark.
Tailor have been pretty much absent over the sand but there are plenty of big specimens hanging around the outer headland washes at Station Creek, Woolgoolga, Emerald and Mutton Bird Island.
If you're targeting big tailor, try mixing up your casting between shallow divers, poppers and lightly weighted 6” and 8” soft plastics.
The bigger fish don't seem all that interested in metal lures at present, if you want success then some creativity and accurate wash casting is needed with lighter and bulkier lures.
In the rivers the bream and flathead have been biting well, with poppers taking bream and bass upstream in the brackish sections and soft plastics and metal vibes working well closer to the salt.
Anglers pumping nippers and fishing around the sand bars in Bonville and Oyster creeks have taken some big whiting to 500g.
Mike Colless and I have had great success on early season bass, with a dozen fish to 43cm coming from a recent canoe trip into the fresh.
There have been some huge salmon taking lures and baits along North Beach near Mylestom, with good-sized jewfish and sharks mixed in.
Over the coming month I'll be heading offshore in search of yellowfin and visiting the brackish and fresh in the hope of tangling with some jacks and bass.Reads: 4631