Other opportunities
  |  First Published: October 2009

It’s that time of year:
he mangrove jacks are becoming more prolific, bream are getting interested in the surface again and it’s almost warm enough to wear shorts and a T-shirt in the canoe all night as the bass kick into high gear.

But with these top-grade sport fish so readily available in the Coffs area, it’s very easy to lose sight of some of the other great fishing opportunities at hand.

For those willing to go out wide and fish deep water, there have been some nice bar cod taken off Coffs in just over 100m of water. You’ll need a bit of weight to get down there, start at 700g if there’s little current and use slab baits of tailor or bonito.

If you’re after something even more arm-stretching, I have it on good authority that there are some hard fighting samson up to 15kg coming out of about 80m south of Coffs. They’re falling for 200g to 300g jigs.

I have been able to find a few rat kings around the island washes – just like everyone else! Small poppers cast on light gear work a treat and are an awesome way to tangle with these little thugs but any small metals or plastics will usually arouse at least one.

Unfortunately, the gangs of kings getting around mainly consist of undersize fish with the odd better one in the pack.
f you’re after one to throw in the box and not be embarrassed about back at the ramp, you will be better off finding some on the slightly deeper reefs and dropping a live bait or jig down to them. There are plenty of flathead around outside.
rifting slab baits along the bottom in 35m to 40m near the lighthouse produced a nice bag for our barbecue recently, with several lizards around a couple of kilos and few reef fish mixed in to make the feed a bit more interesting.

A small mako shark also liked the look of a flathead as it came to the boat and thought it deserved it more than we did, so before we could even think where the shark traces were, we were hooked up solid to a little torpedo that wreaked havoc on a light bottom outfit.

We had it to the boat after about 10 minutes but some not-so-skilful tailing techniques I displayed resulted in a quick release.

The snapper scene hasn’t been fantastic lately but there are still some great fish coming from the deeper reefs.

Heavy skirted jigs, like the Shimano Lucanus, work very well with a lot of fish being enticed by simply leaving the rod in the rod holder and letting the movement of the boat do the hard yakka for you.

he bass are active and it’s been an impressive early season with some exceptional fish caught. Plenty of 45cm fish have been taken with the odd few up to 50cm and I’ve heard reports of a 55cm fork-length fish, too.

With such numbers of quality fish, the poor old bass have been copping a fair amount of fishing pressure already from local anglers. I know it’s tempting to get out there every spare minute you have, I know I want to, but we should all try to take it easy on the bass and try not to hit the same locations too often in quick succession.

There are a lot of different locations and systems locally to target our great native fish so don’t be afraid to do a bit of travelling and exploring.

In the estuaries, there have been plenty of quality flathead.
ounce just about any 3” to 5” soft plastic along the bottom around the oyster leases in the
ellinger and
alang systems and you’re in with a good chance of finding a few.

While you’re attacking the leases you should be able to spot a few bream as well. I have found plenty of fish on the leases but most have been quite finicky, with a bit of interest but not a lot of solid hook-ups.

I have found a few busting up on small baitfish higher up in the systems early in the mornings and they have been happy to hunt down a small surface lure.
his should become more common as it warms up, but the odd cold snap well into October hasn’t been overly helpful.

It is still a little cool of an evening for jacks and although I have been looking, I haven’t come across any just yet.

The big wet earlier in the year caused some major erosion of the river banks, resulting in some amazing new structure in the water.

The upper Kalang is looking very promising to produce good jacks this year.

hallow-running minnows or jerkbait-style hardbodies produce fish time and again.
fairly heavy baitcast or spin outfit with 20-30lb braid will stop a few, but you have to get that lure right into the snag and these fish hit hard so don’t expect to land them all.

Those fishing the beaches have turned up some impressive fish, with plastics on the northern beaches resulting in plenty of jew up to 20kg and a few even better.

n the southern beaches bait has been accounting for plenty of smaller jew. The salmon have still been thick in places and fishos throwing baits for jew were finding big salmon and the odd shark as well. Reads: 1153

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