Coffs Harbour Report: january 2010 by Mark Kallman

Weather

Everyone is desperate for any weather system that will push the warm water in. This season we continue to be plagued by marginal conditions. Having said that, there have been more diving days this month but just when things were looking good, we got the tail end of a cyclone. It goes without saying that the weather system that was supposed to push the warm water in ended up causing the rivers to flood! Rock-hopping would probably be a complete waste of time but out wider it looks like purple water. Once the 4m swell settles, diving should be on like donkey kong.

All things fishy

Intrepid divers have been looking wider than our normal haunts because of the patchy nature of the sea at the moment. Current may be north-south in one area and 500m away may be south-north. Viz could be less than a speargun’s length at one area and a reasonable 15m just around the corner. So divers who are prepared to keep an open mind and explore areas, are getting fish.

On the shallow reefs there are huge numbers of crayfish, so big in fact, that most of them exceed the upper size limit. There are snapper around but true to form they are extremely elusive and are best compared with kaakap. Lie still, look away and hope you can hold your breath for a LONG time. Just one look and they scurry away. Several divers have reported bluebar parrotfish in reasonable numbers. The good news are the Spanish Mackerel (Couta). We saw very few last year in spite of good quantities of bait but this year has seen a number of good fish around. The funniest story was when of my mates decided to swim from the beach to pick up some bream for supper. He elected not to take a rigline and he was not using a reelgun. He was in water about 3m deep when a 25-30kg mackerel swam passed then stopped and took a long look at him. He said that he really wanted to shoot but was sure the fish would swim away with his favourite gun. Apparently the fish stayed around him for a long while and appeared to be teasing them before swimming off in disgust.

We looked at some promising areas south of us and came away with 2 boatloads of fish. There were a lot of big Samsonfish about and with all the activity, mackerel came in to check us out and they also paid the price.

A visitor from Sydney took a good cobia off the back of a manta recently in water about 8m deep. Some of my friends took a quick run out into the same area and managed a few mackerel and cobia too. All I can say is that if the swell drops and the water remains as promising as it looks out wide, we are going to be into some legendary diving.

Plans

My brother is coming over for a holiday and we are planning the trip of a lifetime. We will be heading up into the far north of Queensland into a complete wilderness area. The diving is along the top end of the Barrier Reef where there is little if any pressure. The targets will be the huge doggies, marlin and of course barramundi. Not to mention the plethora of emperors, snappers and rockcod species. More about that next month together with the photos!