You have to feel a bit sorry for us anglers lately, especially boaties – the weather has been so erratic.
Getting the boat ready, packing up the car and getting to your destination does take time and effort, only to find wind, rain and some nasty squalls have come through to spoil your day.
We all like to think we can read the weather but lately it has really tough. Some of the TV weather forecasts for the week have been so off the mark I couldn’t believe it.
I know many offshore fishos rely on their instincts and shoot outside when all looks great, but recently a lot of anglers have reached their favourite reefs and fished for a while, only to have the wind and dark clouds come up from the south rapidly. Then it’s a matter of pulling the pick and scooting straight back in.
High winds can spring on you pretty quickly and waiting until the last minute to head back in can mean having to cross a nasty bar – not fun.
I watched a boat coming into the Hunter not long ago and I witnessed first-hand that power means everything on a boat.
This 4.2m tinny was sitting nicely in the chop and then a swell would rise behind it and the stern would rise and the hull would be pushed sideways a little. I thought ‘why doesn’t he gun the motor to stay in front of the swells or motor over them?’ but as it got closer I could see why.
This boat had three people aboard, esky and a bit of gear but had only a 15hp outboard on the transom. The skipper simply had no power to stay in front of a following sea.
Newcastle is a fairly safe bar with deep water and it’s sheltered fairly well by huge rock walls. If this boat had tried the same thing on a bar that had a sea on top of the swells, the skipper and crew would’ve been in big trouble.
I stood there shaking my head at the stupidity of putting to sea in a boat with such little power.
Fishing has been a hard slog lately. Floodwater has been pouring down the Hunter and into Newcastle Harbour and has taken its toll.
At the time of writing, reports mainly have been coming from the beaches and offshore.
Some really big bream are still about and will take lures but they have been hard to find.
The best places have been in the shallows over sandy bottoms, rocky areas and drop-offs using soft plastics. If that doesn’t work go deeper with heavier and larger lures.
A peeled prawn with a small split shot as weight will also catch bream. In water with little current, let the prawn out and twitch it around a bit like you would do with a soft plastic.
In some cases light braid and no sinker will outfish a weighted bait that isn’t sinking naturally.
Bream can be finicky at times especially in the middle of the day. Late afternoons and at night they bite a bit more readily.
Squid just haven’t let up. They have been around since Christmas in some areas and getting a good feed has been easy.
The Stockton Beach side of the breakwall just up from the Adolph wreck is one of the hot spots for those without a boat.
For those who can get outside, North Reef is always host to mainly large squid. I seem to have been writing about squid every month but they are just that thick and a lot of people have been out targeting them.
The shallows around the end on Nobbys Wall inside Big Ben Reef and is another place they like to hold up.
Squid love sheltered, calm bays over sandy and weedy bottoms; look for these areas and you should find some.
A common mistake is to retrieve the jig too fast. After casting, let it sink, twitch it and wind it very slowly back.
Always keep in touch with the jig through your line and don’t strike when you feel weight, just lean the rod into it so you know the squid pulling fairly hard, then lift the rod and wind. Don’t strike at it; you’ll end up with just a lot of tentacles.
Salmon are still just outside the river mouth and I’m told they are thick off Swansea and on the beaches from there up to Port Stephens.
When the kids and I come across salmon we spend some time casting chrome lures – you never know if big greenback tailor are in with them, or bonito or even small striped tuna. Salmon don’t just travel alone; there can be other surface fish with them.
If you can pick a day when you don’t get sandblasted or find a beach sheltered form the wind, you should have fun. The bream that have been moving around and worms or pipis, fresh large royal red prawns, fresh squid or pilchards should work.
I have had some of my better beach sessions when the sea is really rough but a high sand dune, rock wall or building has created some shelter.
Horseshoe Beach is one of these – fully sheltered from the southerly winds that scream over the wall above you. Bream and jewfish are both caught on this beach and putting in an evening here is well worth it.
Bait is usually around the same area and getting hold of some yellowtail isn’t hard for live or cut bait. You’d be amazed what has been caught along this small beach, although hammerhead sharks and stingrays can become a nuisance.
So fight the urge to stay in front of the heater and go chase bream on the beaches, squid in the calm bays and salmon and tailor trolling or casting offshore.
Salmon will readily grab a range of chrome lures, as will other fish that can travel and feed with the salmon.Reads: 340