Offshore reefies lead the way
  |  First Published: September 2008

Offshore reef species have dominated the fishing landscape at Coffs Harbour with snapper to 12kg, teraglin to 5kg, parrot fish (tuskfish), pearl perch and samson fish to 18kg coming from 30m to 60m of water on bait and lures.

With the water temperature coming down and the visibility clearing, the bite has moved further offshore with fresh baits and berley making for exciting action with schools of hungry fish feeding over and on the fringes of reef.

Dale and Harvey Graham took my boat out last week and fished lures over the Macauleys/Korora/Sapphire reefs and came home with snapper from 2kg to 4kg. The boys fished 6” plastics and 1/2oz jig heads and found the fish keen to hit a sinking lure a few metres off the rocky bottom.

On the beaches, there have been solid school jewfish at dawn/dusk and on the tide changes, with fresh mullet, squid, worm and tailor baits interesting some quality fish. Best locations have been Woolgoolga Back Beach, Sapphire, Hills and North Beach.

The headlands at Moonee, Sawtell and Corindi have provided great opportunity for rock anglers chasing jewfish with lures and bait. Anglers casting into the break zone where creek and ocean meet have found school jewfish willing to take beach worms.

Big sea bream and blue-nose whiting have been taking nippers and beach worms in the beach gutters, with Boambee Beach producing great whiting and bream action near the mouth of the creek.

Salmon haven't moved into the Coffs area as yet but when they do, the gutters of North Beach near Repton will turn black with these great sport fish.


Tailor lurers have found some great action in the washes of Mutton Bird Island and the Quarry with fish hitting ganged pilchards, poppers and metal lures. The breakwall at Urunga has also produced some good choppers, with deep gutters and eddies looking great for jewfish and bream.

My son Kurt and his mate Jacob McIntyre fished the rocks at Station Creek last weekend and had some monumental popper action on huge tailor over 4kg. Jacob's Dad, Andrew, drove the boys to Pebbly Beach for a camp-over while I was away in Darwin and they came home with a stack of photos and great fishing memories.

Most of the fish came from only a few metres of broken water on the backs of breaking bommies.

The same crew fished recently and found the flathead, bream and trevally keen to eat 3” and 4” soft plastics. Kurt remarked on the large numbers of trevally hanging around the deeper stretches feeding on huge schools of whitebait around the highway bridge pylons.

In the brackish water there have been some huge bream and bass taken from deeper snags in the tidal stretches of the bigger rivers such as the Bellinger, Kalang and Nambucca.

Mike Colless christened his new Old Town canoe with a 48cm bass that took a bream plastic down in the brackish zone; the fish was released without being lifted from the water, as befits the closed season.

After a busy period with not much fishing time, the jewfish and bream in the beach gutters better watch out now.

If you're after a big drummer or possibly jewfish on a lure, then the rocks around Coffs will be a great bet over the next month. Once the whitebait schools leave the estuaries the broken headlands will come alive with school jewfish and tailor.

As for big drummer, find a washy gutter, add some bread berley and cunjevoi baits and some brawling action won't be too far away. Just make sure you bring your 15kg or 20kg tackle with you.

Jacob McIntyre with a big Station Creek chopper.

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