Port of Call – Coffs Harbour
Blessed with a protected harbour with a safe entrance, year-round warm waters and a diverse array of fish species, Coffs is well worth a visit. John Ashley reports.
Where Is Coffs Harbour?
Coffs Harbour is situated on the east coast of Australia in northern NSW, around 570km north of Sydney and 350km south of Brisbane.
This manmade harbour complex offers great protection in all weather conditions and has certainly stood the test of time. The break-wall entrance to the harbour is wide and deep, and if you have problems getting out of here you really have no business in going to sea!
The inner harbour has a good marina, with all facilities capable of holding up to 150 boats to 60ft long. Larger craft can usually arrange a tie-up near or on the commercial wharf, also in the inner harbour.
What Is Coffs Harbour Famous For?
Coffs Harbour is famous for its magnificent sweet bananas and of course its excellent fishing.
Coffs has a viable prawn-trawl industry, and the gamefishing and bottom fishing is very good all year round. The amateur fishing club in Coffs has its own magnificent premises situated up on the hill overlooking the harbour and ocean, and the active Coffs Harbour Game Fishing Club runs its meetings and stages its tournaments from this landmark clubhouse.
Every year in September, the Coffs Harbour Game Fishing Club holds its Hot Currents Tournament, and next year the prestigious Australian International Billfish Tournament will be run in conjunction with this local event. At this stage, the dates look set for some time in October.
What Is The History Of Coffs Harbour?
The Coffs Harbour Game Fishing Club was founded in 1988, and many Australian and NSW gamefishing records have been broken on these prolific grounds.
Because the harbour has such a safe entrance and a protected inner-harbour boat ramp facility, the ocean grounds here are actively fished by plenty of keen sportsfishermen from trailerboats. The continental shelf line and a string of deep canyons are only 14 miles off the coast, which gives the trailerboat fishermen plenty of scope to play.
Coffs Harbour is blessed with warm seas for most of the year. In summertime, the tail end of the rich Coral Sea currents push down the east coast and mix with the warm to temperate Pacific Ocean currents.
The area boasts some of the best southern reef and coral on the NSW coastline, and the mixing of these currents has a great bearing on the massive range of species that get caught in Coffs. Everything from Spanish mackerel to five different kinds of billfish turn up, and the list is long as you can see below.
Although a number of keen shark fishermen target the big tigers, makos and whalers that roam these grounds, most game/sportsfishing anglers chase the tuna and billfish with their lures. Particularly in the warmer months, the deep canyons out over the shelf produce the most prized of all billfish species — the blue marlin.
During the autumn months the locals target the mackerel on the inshore reefs, and both Spanish and spotted are abundant. Yellowtail kingfish and cobia also work the inshore grounds, and at times it’s hard to keep a bait in the water.
Getting To Coffs Harbour
By car from Sydney you’re looking at a seven-hour drive north, while from Brisbane a four-hour run south will get you there.
Coffs has a well-serviced jet airport, and Virgin Blue and Qantas fly direct daily from Sydney. Qantas flies in daily from Brisbane as well.
The city and the marina are only a 10-minute run from the airport.
Fishing Charter Boat Operators
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Fishing Tournaments and Events
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