Things shift up a gear
  |  First Published: October 2011

After a dismal report last month, I’m pleased to say the fishing around here has shifted up a gear.

Bream and snapper have come to the party and are on the closer gravel areas off Newcastle and especially off Redhead.

The offshore fishing is often the first to pick up because the ocean water is warmer than that in the rivers, which must wait for the longer days and more sunlight to rise in temperature.

I was recently talking to a guy who had been diving over a close reef and spearfishing along the rocks near the Newcastle Baths. He said he had seen squire, bream, big blue and red morwong on the bottom and a heap of garfish on the surface.

So the fish are there. Divers are full of real information because they are seeing what is actually there, so listen to them and fish for what they say they saw.

This guy also said the garfish were really thick. Garfish are among the favourite food of kingfish and you can get some spectacular surface fishing can be had if you can keep a fresh gar alive long enough in an area where kings visit.

Keeping gar alive, even in the most sophisticated live-bait tanks, is a hard call; they just don’t seem to like enclosed areas. But wherever garfish are around the ocean rocks and reefs, kingfish won’t be far away.

Big green-eyed squid are everywhere but keep a good array of sizes and colours of squid jigs on board because they have been fussy and changing their preferences from day to day.

Over the long weekend this month there will be boats everywhere but remember that the snapper move in close around this time of year so try the closer reefs first before heading out wide.

Whole squid, garfish, pilchards and cuttlefish, as well as slabs of yellowtail, will be eaten pretty fast if you pick the right reefs.


Beach fishing is always great around the long weekend; the kids can chase the hordes of salmon that are still around and at night some great bream are being taken down the Newcastle end of Stockton Beach. Prawns and worms have been the best baits.

The bream have been of good size and well worth the trip to the beach.

I know I keep saying this is holiday time but be careful because this is when kids are running everywhere, especially on the beach. So if you’re in a 4WD go slow around campers and families – show some respect and often the same comes your way.

To my surprise I drove the boat out through Swansea Channel a few weeks ago and found I was running over huge whiting that were schooling with the big bully mullet.

I didn’t try for them; they were very flighty but what were still very Wintry conditions, they certainly surprised me.

So drop down a hook size or two and you might find some great whiting in the gutters on the beaches.

The Hunter Valley freshwater season is well under way now and bass should be moving back up the rivers and creeks. So if you’re keen you can leave the holidaymakers on the coast and hunt some freshwater fish.

Have a safe long weekend.

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