Top reds from clear water
  |  First Published: October 2008

Fishing has been good along the Coffs coast, with the offshore reefs producing bag limits of snapper from 2kg to 4kg with the odd 6kg or 7kg thumper thrown in.

As usual, soft plastics and live and dead baits have been getting the best fish, with live slimes or dead pillies drifted towards the bottom also doing the job well.

Kingfish and greenback tailor have also been getting in on the act with the shallow reefs and offshore islands being home to plenty of hungry pelagics that will take a live bait or lure.

The water has been very clear and if you want to interest above-average fish, live baits or lures worked through the wash zones are the way to go.

Positioning the boat within a safe casting distance of the wash is among my favourite techniques when using lures. In clear water fish spook easily and while I do a lot of wash trolling over Summer, in the cooler months I like to cast and retrieve metal and soft plastic lures for kings and tailor.

Along the beaches there have been plenty of school jew on the chew.

I fished a few nights ago near Korora and we hooked a couple of fish just after sundown, the best going 5kg.

At present getting a reliable supply of fresh tailor before dark can’t be guaranteed so it pays to organise an alternative bait such as squid, mullet or beach worms.

Yellowtail and slimy mackerel can be caught from the harbour wharfs and these make great dead baits for beach jewfish.

In the estuaries there has been a reasonable run of luderick with the best fish coming from the mouths of Bonville, Moonee and Corindi creeks. These same creek mouths will produce jew at dawn/sunset on beach worms, or slowly worked soft plastics.


The ever reliable Kalang and Bellinger rivers have been producing big numbers of luderick, many pushing a kilo.

The Kalang has been disappointing for bream in recent weeks and many are blaming the sanded-up entrance for the no-show.

Mike Colless and I fished the upper reaches and caught and released over 20 bream and even more flathead on soft plastics.

Mike went back to the same stretch a few days later with his wife Karen and released 10 bass, the best going a massive 58cm.

The biggest bass came from underneath schools of herring in the deeper sections of running water. All fish caught spewed up herring, or had herring hanging out of their mouths.

At this time of year bass are trying to feed up on prawns and small fish in preparation for their journey up river, after spawning down in the salt.


On future trips Mike and I will use larger, shad shaped plastics in 5” and 6” varieties.

My kids and I break up our bream luring trips by setting witches’-hat traps in the Kalang and Bellinger Rivers for blue swimmer crabs, which have been going well.

Drummer have been biting at Charlesworth and Bundagen, with solid fish to 3kg caught at most decent pig ledges. Best baits for pigs are cunjevoi or fresh peeled prawns.

The sort of water you’re looking for has to have a good cover of whitewater and some depth nearby.

Rigging for pigs involves 10kg or 15kg line running through a small ball sinker to a double-strength 1/0 or 2/0 hook.

Remember to fill your hook with plenty of bait, keep casting to the same patch of water and don’t let your bait settle on the bottom for too long.

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