Coffs Harbour

Yellowtail kingfish caught at Coffs Harbour, Steve Cooper

My introduction to fishing north of Sydney was at Coffs Harbour, an area with a diverse range of options. The first time I fished here I was into land-based game and spent most of my time on the ledges of Mutton Bird Island chasing bonito, Spanish mackerel and longtail tuna. Other anglers were after drummer, bream and tailor.

Off shore fishing is exceptional at times. Mackerel, marlin, cobia, tuna and yellowtail kingfish are just some of the game fish available. Bottom bouncers also do well.

My first trip off shore was a spur-of-the-moment event with a German angler called Hans. He was a permanent resident in the caravan park in which I was staying. Hans wanted someone to go out with him in his boat; I just wanted to get on the water after spending several days fishing from the rocks.

It was early April and the catch that day was a revelation in terms of quantity. We didn’t head for the Solitary Islands or those areas that are now marine parks, but instead went south-east.

Our rigs were rudimentary: fixed sinker paternoster, two baits and that was about it. The bottom wasn’t heavy reef; more like sand with intermittent reef patches.

Our baits were barely down when the action started. The first snapper was about 1.5 kg, and from then on there was a steady stream of snapper up to 3.6 kg, along with pearl perch and yellowtail kingfi sh. A couple of days later the local fishing club held a big fi shing competition, and the bulk of the fi sh that weighed in were snapper. The biggest was about 4.5 kg, but there were plenty around 1–2 kg.

A long jetty juts out into the harbour and this is popular with families who can catch yellowtail, trevally, garfish and bream. The seawall that runs out from Corambirra Point is worth fishing for bream, drummer, tailor and even mulloway. Anglers here sometimes also hook mackerel and tuna. Estuary anglers can fish Coffs and Moonee creeks for mangrove jack, bream, flathead, luderick, trevally and whiting. Beach anglers fish for tailor, bream and mulloway.

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