Baitfish and pelagics show
  |  First Published: December 2012

The fishing should be absolutely magic this month. Baitfish and schools of small pelagic fish have shown up from Redhead through to Port Stephens and beyond.

Bonito, striped tuna, mack tuna and mahi mahi are in close enough for the small-boat brigade to target.

It hasn’t been just pelagic fish that have shown up in this area over the past two months. Snapper, nannygai, sweetlip, big bream, flathead, and jewfish are along the inshore reefs in numbers.

The snapper are great and although they are not huge, I have heard of a few fish over 6kg hitting the cleaning tables.

There have been plenty of reds of 2kg-4kg, great eating size, with fish around a kilo mixed in, especially the over shallower reefs.

Wider reefs are holding school jewfish, teraglin, kingfish and, for some unknown reason, masses of sergeant bakers. These relatives of the northern grinners pull hard and are often mistaken for more desirable table fish, as they bump up the line a little like snapper when hooked.

They fight well and take soft plastics but they aren’t great on the plate. They are very bony and become mushy when cooked. The pure white flesh has little flavour. (Sergeant baker strips make great snapper bait. – Editor)

Morning live-bait sessions over the reefs have produced kingfish, mahi mahi and jewfish. Livies set on the surface under balloons or floats have taken mahi mahi and large bonito and mack tuna.

Kings have been taking trolled lures and baits down deep. I don’t think it would matter how you targeted the pelagics at the moment, you would get a few.

Trolling deep lures or bait covers a lot of ground and can find the schools if they aren’t visible on the surface.


In the estuaries flathead, whiting, bream and patchy schools of tailor have been the major drawcards.

The flats around Hexham are holding quality flathead and areas with rocky outcrops and rough bottom have bream.

With little rain, bass enter the mix just up from Hexham and Raymond Terrace; they come further down the system with the flows of fresh water.

Crabs, squid and prawns will keep getting thicker as we head into the New Year. The blue swimmers are in numbers around Sandgate and the Northern Channel of the Hunter.

Here’s wishing everyone a great Christmas, and I want to thank everyone who helps with my reports, they know who they are. This is a great month so go get ’em.

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