Coffs Harbour Report: January 2009 by Mark Kallman

Conditions

According to the locals, January is usually the month for Southerlies. Up to this stage, the winds are quite variable swinging from NE to S on a whim. The S are needed to push the warm eddy of  the EAC inshore. Early January was a continuation of the shoddy conditions in the 2nd half of December. Toward the end of January, S were blowing more consistently and the sea has cleared up dramatically. The clear water marks the arrival of the warm water and a smorgasbord of species may be encountered, including species like Coral Trout.

Fish Scene

Lots of Marlin were seen around the Big Island and this coincides with the migration of Black Marlin off our coast in summer. Some guys trolling around the Big Island had their lures hammered by Yellowfin Tuna but when diving there was still a dirty thermocline around 20m. I had very few spearing trips as work had me holed up in the consulting room more often than not. When I did get off, the conditions seemed bent on keeping me out of the sea. A few days ago I managed a quick dive which produced some good Yellowtail. Unfortunately, a parasite found in the flesh of some of these fish turns it to mush when cooked. No points for guessing which fish I took home.

My diving mates tell me lots of Dorado are out at the buoys and fish traps, Some Wahoo have been encountered in the deep but the big schools have not arrived. Cobia are making a welcome appearance and it is not unusual to find a large black ray with a group of 15-20 Cobia hanging around it. Every ray should be checked because a 10kg fish may be completely covered by the enormous ray. Unfortunately, you end up checking lots of rays in a day of diving and they like the deep water, which amounts to lots of work. We have managed to get some Frigate Tuna Katsuwonas pelamis  which make good sushi if properly bled and cooled soon after capture. They don’t move nearly as quickly as the Mack Tuna/Kawakawa Euthynnus affinis which are like little darts underwater.

The odd large Amberjack has been taken but nothing like those great fish landed at Protea recently, although I firmly believe that given the correct conditions and deep water, they can be taken here too. Larger Spanish are around, ranging close to 20kg and there have been reports of some good Samsonfish seen but as yet no-one has taken a remarkable Sambo. Some great Mangrove Jacks have been secured in deep water 28m+ with one fish going over 8kg. That is an awesome fish by any standards.

Sharks

Seems to be a continual thread in my postings. As the temperature increases and the bait collects, one should not be surprised that the apex predators get in on the action. Off a Tasmanian beach, a young girl was pulled to safety by her cousin when a large White Shark actively investigated her; she got off very lightly according to accounts of the shark’s size. Then around my neck of the woods, 2 surfers were bitten by suspected Bull Sharks. The one was sitting on his surfboard watching a school of bait being chased. Both bites occurred in shallow water and it appears that although the injuries sustained were serious, the bites were regarded as minor. I think we are yet to see more shark activity in the coming months.

Predictions

The S have arrived and the Ocean looks spectacular. Warm water, great viz and a reliable N-S current. Barring a really unusual turn in the weather, we should be enjoying great Spearfishing for the foreseeable future. Lots of fresh Dorado steaks and sushi. Happy hunting.