Matthew McEwan is a local man who is a very keen fisherman; his passion is obvious when you talk to him about the sport. He knows his stuff and his way around the local Coffs coast and waterways. He gave us the low-down on some of the best local fishing spots and what you might expect to catch there.
Hey Matthew. Tell us your about your relationship with the Coffs Coast.
I moved to the Coffs Coast when I was nine months old from Kellyville in Sydney. I have now lived here for the past 22 years and absolutely love the area. It’s close enough to the coast for estuarine and offshore fishing, but is also only a few hours drive to many remote freshwater fisheries just over the Great Dividing range, making the Coffs Coast a fisherman’s heaven!
When did you realise you had a passion for fishing?
I realised I had a passion for fishing when we started going on family holidays to Yamba. We would stay there for two weeks at a time, and my parents couldn’t keep me away from the water. This passion started from an early age, as there are photos of me with my floaties on casting a lure. As the years went on, I would sneak away from packing up the campsite to run down to the local wharf with a styrofoam cup full of yabbies to fish until they had finished packing up camp.
How does the Coffs Coast compare to some of the other locations you have fished around Australia and New Zealand?
The Coffs Coast would have to be one of the most iconic fishing destinations in Australia – if not the world. It’s so diverse in the fact that we are located in a position which attracts the cooler water during the winter months, which brings in a very good run of inshore Snapper, where you can land trophy sized Snapper only a hundred metres or so from the beach. On the other hand, during the warmer months the East Australian Current runs down the coast, bringing with it a large variety of pelagic fishes. Mackerel and Marlin are the main targets for this time of year; however, Wahoo and Dolphin Fish can also be found amongst the mix. Bringing ourselves away from the coast and heading to the west, the freshwater fishing is truly amazing. Australian Bass are a native fishing icon and can be found in the many freshwater streams and creeks around Coffs within half an hour’s drive. Heading up to the top of the plateau of Dorrigo, both Rainbow and Brown Trout are stocked by Dutton Trout Hatchery, making it an ideal spot for a fly fisherman to tangle lines with a trout a two. Not many spots in the world where you can catch a Marlin and a Trout in the same day! Pretty impressive stuff, if you ask me.
What are some great fish to catch here on the Coffs Coast, and what’s been your best catch so far?
As I stated earlier, the fishing opportunities are endless here around Coffs, so there’s always something on offer to cater for everyone. If you are looking at putting the boat in to head offshore, some great fish to target would be Snapper, Teraglin and Pearl Perch, as most of these fish can be targeted by dropping some baits on some reefy patches of the sea floor. If you are wetting a line up the estuaries and rivers, you can expect to cross paths with the likes of Bream, Flathead and Whiting by simply using prawns, yabbies or worms. As for me and some of my best catches, the ones pretty high up on the list would have to be a 200 kg Blue Marlin, an 8 kg Snapper or a 25 kg Dolphin Fish.
For anyone starting out fishing or for those who don’t know about the etiquette of fishing, what are some of the things they should be mindful of?
People should just be mindful of other users of the water. By saying this, I mean that if there are people towing others on a tube or swimmers around, try to avoid fishing in that area, as you could cause a potential accident by being in the road.
As for etiquette when it comes to other people fishing, keeping a reasonable distance away from other boaters to the best of your ability would be an appropriate action. A general rule of thumb is to keep around a good cast length or an Olympic size pool distance away from others. I understand that sometimes this can’t be helped, but just be mindful. Another thing that I would like to touch on would be the amount of rubbish left behind by some people. If you were able to take it to your fishing spot, then you can take it back, so please look after our waterways and put your rubbish in the bin!
You enter the Dave Irvine Memorial Classic each year. What’s it like competing, and have you had any success with it?
Competing for me is certainly more about the social aspect, rather than the competition itself. The Dave Irvine draws over 250 anglers each year and is always about getting everyone involved. Prizes are all given away via raffle, so you don’t even have to catch a fish to take home a boat and motor package! As to success, last year we managed to place third as a team out of 90+ teams, so we were pretty happy with that! So much so, that the trophy is now permanently mounted in our boat.
What are some of your new projects this year which involve fishing? Could you tell us a little about these?
For 2019 I’ve been invited to attend the Kakadu Klash at the start of May. The event is an invitation only event and promotes catch and release of Barramundi, so I’m looking forward to that. Another project that I’m looking at starting up would be a personal blog where I can post informative write ups and videos to help out those who are looking at getting into fishing or broaden the spectrum of those who already fish.
If anyone wanted to get to know me more or was chasing some more advice, feel free to follow me on Instagram @macca_mcewan, or even come in and see myself and the rest of the friendly staff at MoTackle and Outdoors!