With cooler weather and the cooler water returning from the south, the main focus for anglers lately has been on tailor and bream from the beaches.
If it's been a while since you've grabbed the beach gear and felt sand between your toes, now is the time. Tailor, bream, jewfish and salmon have all been taken along the beaches from Redhead up to Stockton.
Tailor have been the real drawcard with good-sized greenbacks turning up along with the first showing of salmon.
Pilchards or long, wafting strips of mullet or bonito will take them, as will a variety of lures.
Heavy chrome lures are best for long distances. You can cast these a long way and your retrieve will covering the back of the sandbank and through the gutter or holes to the shore.
Early mornings and late afternoons are the best times to target tailor but you will at times get good schools that show themselves throughout the day, especially if it’s overcast. And there’s been no shortage of overcast days this year.
The dirty brackish water from the Autumn rains has had little effect on bream, which can tolerate a wide variety of water conditions. They started spawning late in March and schools have been heading north past us ever since.
Prawns, pipis, cubes of fish and worms account for most bream.
The estuaries have been a lottery with days when fish co-operate and then some you are just wasting petrol.
On the days when the water is good the flathead and bream will bite on lures but as the water quality falls, bait becomes the only option.
I see anglers still throwing lures in darkest brown, muddiest water and I wonder sometimes what they are thinking.
Yes, at times you can get lucky but lures are mostly a see-and-chase sort of proposition. Bait puts out a scent and can lead to better catches if the water has turned to crap.
I have recorded one of the worst blue swimmer crab seasons in my history. If you did catch a few they were so discoloured and dark that even thinking about eating them made your stomach churn.
As for mud crabs, if you were lucky enough to catch them that’s what most tasted like – mud! Let’s hope the number that weren't taken this season will fold over and next year will be a bonanza for them.
Offshore has been the drawcard but finding good water hasn't been easy. Temps have fluctuated and the fish have shut down. The next minute they are on the surface feeding, so water quality will be the big concern in the coming months.
When they are on, there have been tailor, bonito, mahi mahi, good numbers of squire and snapper, as well as bream and nannygai on most reefs off Newcastle.
I hope the leatherjackets don't turn up this month in the plagues they did this time last year; they aren't bad on the plate but when you’re chasing more desirable species they really are annoying. So were the sweep that encroached on every reef this time last year.
The Carrington boat ramp drops away at the end of the concrete, falling off more than 1m. I don't know if it's because of the heavy rain or if it's from prop wash from boats being driven onto trailers, but beware – it drops really steeply.
One thing’s for sure, the sandy areas around the ramp have been covered in plenty of poddy mullet for those who want to try their luck live-baiting in the river.
The high cost of petrol has prevented some boaties from even bothering to go out, while others have taken it in their stride. But most are now not putting E10 fuel in their pride and joy, opting to pay even more for premium unleaded or other expensive fuels.
In reality I think you can use E10 in any outboard engine, it's not the petrol that is of concern but the storage time. If you’re using plenty of fuel and filling up frequently, you will have no problems.
It's after its been stored a long while that the ethanol separates and leads to the chemical eating plastic, fibreglass and rubber hoses.
I took the time to speak to a fuel chemist from BP, who agreed E10 fuel can't really harm anything unless it's stored for periods of time. The one question I couldn't find out was the amount of time we had before this does take effect. (Those who have looked deeper have ascertained that E10 begins to separate in a matter of days, rather than weeks. – Editor)Reads: 710