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The hottest time of all
  |  First Published: March 2012



It's here again – the best month to fish on this part of the coast.

The warmest water is here and the pelagics and reef fish are everywhere. If you can't catch fish this month, sell the boat and the gear and give up.

Sharks have featured high in the media, with the attack on a surfer off Redhead going national.

There certainly seem to be more inshore this year than previous seasons, and they are big. Reports of sharks in Lake Macquarie and off Newcastle have been coming in daily.

Offshore schools of mack tuna, wahoo, marlin, mahi mahi, bonito, tailor and longtail tuna have been reported and I am sure these fish will still be around as you read this.

A sure-fire way to get into the action is to go trolling and look for wheeling and diving birds.

There are school kingfish on the inner reefs and a lot of nannygai. Snapper have been slow but you never know when they may turn up again.

Teraglin and jewfish have been taken at night offshore over the deeper reefs towards Birubi Point.

The Mudhole Reef has been fishing really well for bream, flathead and school jewfish. The sharks have turned up there, too, mainly hammerheads and reef sharks such as bronze whalers and white-tip species.

ESTUARY JEW

In the estuaries there have been great school jewfish around Stockton bridge and up around Hexham.

Flathead have been willing to strike lures and drifted baits in both channels of the Hunter River.

Bream should be in the harbour, where lures such as small vibes, blades and small soft plastics have been braining them.

Tailor have entered the river mouth but a lot are small, so be careful with the size limit on these. A legal tailor has to measure 30cm.

There are also whiting over the mud and sand flats in the North Channel just below Stockton bridge. Peeled prawns, yabbies and worms are the best bait and small soft plastics will also work.

The beaches have been slower than usual, although bream flathead and whiting have been around, along with the odd patch of big tailor.

Sometimes big schools of tailor move in from now until the end of May. Fillets of these make great jewfish baits in the channels, gutters and holes and where there are a lot of tailor, jewfish will usually not be far away.

Not long back I noticed the isolated danger buoy from above North Reef had gone missing. Then the dredge ship from the harbour, the David Allen, towed it right past us. It looked pretty good with its glossy new paint job, and it's back where it should be now.

I am certain school kings will be back underneath the buoy as well. Try throwing small poppers and shallow-diving lures. If there are no boats around, trolling skirts in close to the buoy works well.

PFD MESS

I’m still trying to nut out the new inflatable lifejacket laws and I’m still having trouble.

Some non-angling boaters say that if my inflatable jacket is now out of date, I can just use the old-style PFD. Have you ever tried to fish in a bulky jacket?

Some people who work at boat chandleries, marinas and other retail outlets really need to think what they’re trying to sell you.

Out-of-date jackets being sold from the shelf make it a huge problem. As well as being a rip-off, selling out-of-date PFDs can put lives in danger.

Hopefully someone up there in power will have the nous to see our problems and sort them out but I am not holding my breath.

NSW Maritime really showed its power over the past three months on all Hunter waterways.

Four boats came down the Swansea Channel checking boats for safety gear, licenses and regos.

They picked me up twice; once in the channel and once in the Hunter they were nice and since we had everything OK onboard they were on their merry way. Some fishers were fined, mainly for overloaded boats or for dangerous navigation and drinking offences.

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