The march out of summer
  |  First Published: March 2017

This month signifies the start of a slow march out of summer. This march is so slow that March tends not to involve any slow fishing at all. Even though it’s technically autumn, the fishing is still as hot as it gets.

This month generally sees the peak of the offshore action. The mackerel are in full swing and can be found from the inshore reefs and out to the islands. Spanish mackerel tend to move around with the warm water as the current moves in and out. Spotted mackerel, by contrast, have been staying close to shore, even during the colder side of the temperature fluctuations.

Stickbaits continue to grow as one of the more popular lures for targeting these fish. Using your sounder to find the bait and mackerel schools enables you to set up your boat to drift silently through the school rather than trolling around under motor with a live bait. Stickbaits are easy to cast long distances and can be worked reasonably fast, so you can cover the water all around the boat.

The other advantage of stickbaits is that you can retrieve them in a variety of ways. You can opt to retrieve them on or near the surface, or let them sink down under the bait schools and work them up. On top of this, stickbaiting catches fish of many different species, and the hits can be extremely aggressive. There aren’t many more exhilarating experiences than watching a mackerel launch 10ft in the air with your lure in its mouth. This month the stickbaits will be mostly aimed at mackerel.

There are some large cobia around that have been popping up to add some variety. There have been mahimahi up for grabs in any water over 24°C, but if you want to catch some of these you will need to find the structure. The FAD, the wave buoy and the fish traps are what you’re searching for. If the warm water has reached the islands though, you should find the mahimahi around the washes and underwater pinnacles.

The snapper are always active on the Coffs Coast and this last month has been no different. There have been mostly smaller fish closer inshore, with many of the larger fish coming from reefs further offshore in 50-90ft of water. Plastics and slow jigs have been bringing most of the results.


In the estuaries the mangrove jacks have been dominating the story for many anglers. The hot muggy mornings and evenings have produced plenty of jack action. Jerkbaits and surface lures have been undoing most fish. The live baits still get good fish but you are pretty committed to a snag once you drop your live bait in. Throwing lures around allows you to have a more active session.


The hot weather has also been affecting the fishing up on the Dorrigo Plateau. The heat this summer has created some very tough conditions in the trout streams. The effect of the heat has been reduced slightly by the rain that we’ve had. These trying conditions can be used to narrow down your target areas for trout fishing. The tree-lined sections of the smaller streams are fishing the best up on top of the range, and there have been good trout caught well down into the major river systems.

The heat has not had any detrimental effect on the bass fishing, and the sticky summer evenings have been producing a lot of surface action in the local freshwater creeks and rivers. Even the slower Orara River has been producing reasonable bass as well as the odd accidental eastern cod.

As we slowly march away from summer, I hope your fishing stays as hot as the weather.

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