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Offshore looks promising
  |  First Published: December 2011



As I write it’s a scorcher of a day in the Hunter region but the water still needs to warm further to fire up the new season properly.

Best results have been offshore, where the slimy mackerel should now be spreading out and the pelagics will follow. A couple of boats have already tagged and released blue marlin and the little blacks shouldn’t be too far away now, along with mahi mahi and tuna.

The reefs off Newcastle still have good numbers of snapper and teraglin. It’s probably been the best season for squire for quite a while around these parts.

With bream as reasonably plentiful by-catch on the reefs there haven’t been many complaints from anglers lately.

In Newcastle Harbour the flathead are back in full swing and lures seem to be the best shot at the moment.

Try the sandbanks up around the Stockton bridge or in the North Channel of the Hunter River. Flathead love the sandy North Channel, especially after big tides.

Bream are also being taken in the river, luderick are still hanging around, and whiting are down near the mouth, as usual at this time of year, but they should move farther up the system as the water warms.

A few school jewfish around 10kg have grabbed live baits from the Nobbys and Stockton breakwalls. This month we could see a few bigger jewfish taken in the river.

Trolling is always a good option this month; you never know what might jump on. Tailor, bonito and striped tuna all should be firing around Christmas.

To cover all options, run lures deep and on the surface. One of my favourite lures is a pink skirt around 50mm long, it seems to get most of the hits when I am trolling and it has taken so many different species I swear by it.

CRABS, PRAWNS

Don’t forget that the blue swimmer crabs and prawns show up around Christmas, too.

Both have a good following in this area, especially the crabs, and you can find a lot in the Hunter at times. Best crab baits are luderick heads and mullet frames.

For the school prawns, try the twin river bridges up around Raymond Terrace or the weed and sand beds farther down towards Hexham.

Haul nets work best and are more manageable than a tiny scoop net that may get you one prawn at a time.

There are still squid in good numbers over the closer reefs and I can honestly say I have never seen more squid than I have over the past few months. I don’t know wether it’s the numbers of small baitfish or just the right conditions, but squid catches have been sensational.

This won’t change in the short term, so try the Stockton breakwall on the beach side or around the end of Nobbys breakwall. North Reef always has a great cloud of squid around it and that’s why the kingfish are there all year.

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