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Arm-wrenching action
  |  First Published: January 2010



The waves of holidaymakers on the Coffs coast have receded and things now should be settling back down into a nice fishy routine.

The mackerel should be starting to move this month but so far, just like the warm water, they are a bit patchy.

It was looking very promising with dry weather and warm water pushing down but rain and cool southerlies blowing up the coast a few weeks back forced the quality water east off Coffs a little too far out for most of us in our trailer boats.

Nonetheless, this year it’s actually looking like we could have a good season and hopefully the warm water will sneak back in closer over the next few weeks.

I did manage to get on the water in my kayak for a few quick paddles but it looks like my goal of a mackerel out of the ’yak will have to wait until the fish are a little more prolific.

Baits on the rocks have provided some excellent mixed bags.

Crab baits have been accounting for a few groper with some great bream as by-catch, while cunjevoi and good old prawns have gone down well on the drummer.

Small bonito have been plentiful and, just like a lot of others, I’ve been stocking up lately as they make great bait for all sorts of predators.

With the mackerel aroma wafting on the breeze, they are handy spares to have in the freezer.

Small kings have been hanging around in the washes and a recent morning of floating baits in the washes for bream produced some impressive bust-ups courtesy of these little monsters that took a liking to small strips of bonito.

If you’re looking for a feed of snapper or you just want your arms pulled out of their sockets, snapper up to 9kg have been more than happy to take plastics fished in 30m to 35m of water down south.

There have also been good fish up north and rolling big paddletail-style plastics around reefs close to the islands has accounted for kings up to 15kg, which will keep you occupied for a good while on your snapper gear!

Another great arm-stretching option is to head to the FAD and drop a live bait out for a mahi mahi.

There have been some great fish taken there and the wave recorder isn’t a bad spot to pull a bait past, either.

PINDARI GOLD

With Coffs inundated with crowds over the holiday period it was also a good time to get away from it and when I got an invite to tag along to Pindari Dam for a weekend, I didn’t have to think about my answer.

This was my first trip to Pindari but it certainly won’t be my last. It was a great way to escape the hectic coast for a couple of days and once we figured out what the fish were doing, we scored some great golden perch with a few small Murray cod and silver perch thrown in.

Vibes and plastics slow-rolled around deeper structure proved deadly with plenty of 50cm-plus goldens coming to the boat.

If headed up the Coffs Coast estuaries over the past few weeks, you would have found plenty of activity with small trevally spread throughout most of the local systems.

With warm, overcast days, the bream have been happy to feed on the surface well into the middle of the day.

The smaller creeks close to Coffs have proved to be mangrove jack hot spots so far, with plenty of quality fish being taken from these small systems.

However, not a lot seems to be happening in the larger systems further south.

The lower areas of the estuaries have also been packed full of juvenile mulloway from 20cm to 30cm with the occasional slightly larger one.

These small jew are great fun on light gear when chasing bream but in some areas they are in plague proportions.

This can be frustrating, but just think of the future fishery in our hands – treat them with care and remember the legal size in NSW for mulloway is 45cm. All undersized fish caught need to be released unharmed if possible.

This month we should start seeing greater numbers of mackerel.

If you’re out and about around Coffs this month, don’t be surprised if you see me up the estuaries throwing poppers for bream and trevally or chasing a few jacks but I’ll also be hoping around the rocks throwing plastics for jew and baits for bream and drummer.

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