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Bring back the bass
  |  First Published: October 2016



It’s only a matter of days until we can stalk our favourite feral once again, as the NSW trout season opens for another year. The last few months have provided the range with much rain and plentiful flows in all river systems in our area. The trout suffered greatly last season with depleted flows and searing heat. I think we can look forward to far kinder conditions for the trout this year, or at least for the start of the season.

Most creeks should fish well, but I would still tend towards areas that have been easier for the fish during the heat of last season. The creeks in dense forest, which hold good deep holes between riffles and are higher up the range, will have more healthy fish, and hopefully a head start for this summer. It’s always hard to know what the season is going to be like when we’ve had the off-season gap. Going on recent captures, up in private and non-gazetted trout waters, the trout are in the mood and should be healthy and active.

The bass anglers have spent the last month catching up after another extended off-season. If you’re chasing bass, you still have two main strategies to pick from, fish the upper tidal reaches looking for schools amongst the snags, or look for more spread out fish in their upstream homes in the skinny stuff. The latter is the more popular, as it’s usually more scenic and visual fishing.

Upstream, it’s never too early to utilise your favourite surface lure. There have been plenty of bass keen on a surface crawler, even in the middle of the day, with not a cicada to be heard. My favourites are the Jackall Pompadour Jr for deeper pools or coloured water, and the Tiemco Soft Shell Cicada for shallow and clear streams. Small to medium hardbody lures will work well too, especially in deeper holes or larger river sections, near the tidal stretches. The upper estuary fish are also being taken on shrimp pattern plastics and flies, which need to be fished slower with more patience.

Mulloway have remained regular captures for those putting in the time in the mid-upper estuaries. They’re active in all the systems, but especially in the larger catchments of Kalang, Bellinger and Nambucca. Jerk shad and paddle-tail soft plastics have been the most successful on river mulloway of all sizes.

The same can be said for the headlands and rockwalls, where anglers have had plenty of success. Sometimes it’s been a struggle to find a period with small enough swell to fish, but big enough for the fish to find cover. Headlands with small rocks and bommies off the main rock ledge have showed the most consistency here. Macaulies, Boambee, and Bundagen have all been fishing quite well, but again, only when you can find the right conditions to fish them properly.

Fishing in the lower estuary has still be mostly focused around the bream and flathead, both of which have been active and caught in size and numbers. The whiting are starting to warm up though and have been actively hitting surface lures, as well as the trusty yabby. This month should see them come on even stronger, so pull out your Sugarpens and Skinny Pops and start casting.

During the Dave Irvine Memorial Snapper Classic, run in late August this year, snapper showed why they’re the staple for anglers along our coast. During the tournament, 221 local and visiting anglers were able to capture, measure and release 867 legal snapper, averaged at almost 50cm. The largest fish was 91.7cm, and the top three were separated by less than 1cm. This year’s event also enjoyed some of the better weather experienced in its ten years of running. The snapper have since continued their form with plenty on offer for every type of angler, with soft plastics, jigs, or bait.

Other options offshore this time of year are centred around the Seriola gang. Kingfish, Samson fish and amberjacks have been schooled up around most deep reef locations, as well as the islands. Kingfish have been the larger target for most anglers and have been very willing to hit a fleeing stickbait. Live baiting and floatlining have also been netting a few big hoodlums.

If you’ve scored some winning photos on your fishing trips in this area, send your photos to --e-mail address hidden-- and you can show all of NSW. They don’t have to be massive fish or spectacular photos, just well taken images of fun fishing on the Coffs Coast. Send full size pics and a bit about the capture. You don’t have to give away your secret spot, but we’d love to share your fishing captures and see what other anglers are getting up to in our area. Whether you’re capturing great photos or just soaking in your experiences, I hope your using the fantastic part of the world we live in.

1

The bass anglers have been flat out catching up after a four month off-season.

2

Andrew Talbot’s 91.7cm fish took out biggest snapper by only a few millimetres, during the Dave Irvine Memorial Snapper Classic.

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This snapper got Jason up and running towards 3rd place in the Kayak section of the Dave Irvine Classic.

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