Coffs Harbour Report: December 2008 by Mark Kallman

Conditions

Firstly, a belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. December has seen a deterioration in conditions. There has been a distinct thermocline sitting around 15-20m. The water has been really dirty and cold below the thermocline. We are patiently waiting for the S to blow hard and move the clean, warm water onto the coast consistently. Having said that, if you manage to time it right (often a hit-and-miss affair) and look at several spots, you may very well be rewarded with great conditions.

Spearing

Early in December there were some remarkable days of spearing to be had. On the S of the Big Island, massive bait schools were found together with schools of different pelagics. These included Yellowtail, Amberjack, Spanish as well as Mack Tuna. The only thing missing were the Wahoo. Some of my Spearfishing contacts did take several Spanish, Samsonfish and Cobia later in the month. The bait schools are still thick. Even the deepsea gamefishers are reporting enormous schools of bait being harassed by Marlin and Tuna.

We tried the FAD off Coffs and the Wave Recorder Buoy. Both have been producing lots of Dorado. A fish of 13kg was landed by one of my dive-mates and another thought or imagined to be 2m long was dropped by a fisherman. I was fortunate to see a Marlin at the FAD but it didn’t hang around. Several other Marlin have been seen in the vicinity of the Big Island. The bottoms have also been a little better. Some Pearl Perch, Bluebar Parrotfish and Mangrove Jacks have put in a welcome appearance.

Toward Christmas, conditions were becoming very marginal. If you were lucky to find a patch of good water, then there were fish to be had. We did manage just that but it did mean driving around a lot. We got Spanish, Cobia and Yellowtail. The warm water changes were obvious: Green Jobfish, which are a Summer visitor, were seen N of the Big Island. Most recently a small Wahoo was dropped out at the FAD.

White Sharks

A very unfortunate incident off Perth, occurred shortly before New Year. A snorkler was attacked and killed by a White. The shark thought to be responsible was followed by several boats and a helicopter. It was a pretty large shark. About 2 days later a small boat was actively investigated by a White in the same area. The TV news has gone nuts with every piece of available shark footage being shown, including lots of footage of tiny sharks near people or Leopard Sharks swimming near the surface.

We have seen an increase in shark activity in our area too. The Grey Nurse are thought to be breeding and their increased curiosity has been attributed to this. It can become very intimidating on occasion. The increase in other shark activity: Bronze Whalers and Sandbar Sharks seems to correspond with the increased fish activity, so that is a good sign.