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Hunter River fires up
  |  First Published: March 2013



I am sure this month will be cooler and next month the currents can turn around and head back uphill, so now is the best chance to get out there among the big fish.

The big news is the Hunter river has started to really fire up with some very big jewfish showing along both walls and in the holes and drop-offs.

Live bait has been by far the most successful but whole squid caught locally or fresh from the Fishermen’s Co-Op can give results.

This month jewfish should be around in good numbers; try the drop-off near the Newcastle Pilot Station, the holes around Stockton bridge pylons and the deeper water up around Sandgate.

Live worms, large fresh prawns, octopus legs and fresh crabs also take jewfish if the livies are playing hardball.

It can be a hard slog in the Hunter River getting yellowtail, slimy mackerel or herring if the water is discoloured and you can’t sneak around to the Adolph wreck.

You can make do with tailor (which must be the legal 30cm) or whiting (27cm). Both are usually around the mouth of the river but they are not as good as slimies or yakkas.

Bream, flathead, whiting, tailor and large flounder should be all over the muddy and sandy bottoms.

A great drift over mud and sand is out the front of Kooragang Island. If it’s blowing a nor’-easter you can drift right across to the shipping channel as the bottom falls away from about 8m to over 30m.

Some huge flathead and flounder lie around here. Try whole pilchards, live worms, or fresh prawns with just enough weight for the bait to bounce along the bottom.

You can also drift an unweighted pilchard to sometimes snag tailor and school jewfish that travel through here.

Once you reach the edge of the channel, keep going and you can hook the big bream that hug the side of the underwater hill.

Further upstream and in the back channels of all estuaries, mud crabs are about and some can be huge. This month they are heavy and full of meat and I don’t know many people who can resist mud crab dressed with chilli or cooked on an open fire; the taste is addictive.

Mullet and luderick frames are great crab bait.

OFFSHORE

The marlin season has been pretty good and a lot of anglers have got onto fish in warm water in close, as well further out in the deep blue currents.

Kingfish, mahi mahi, yellowfin tuna, striped tuna, bonito and albacore can turn up along current lines from now until the water starts to cool. A few anglers on the reefs closer to shore have also run into cobia.

On the beaches, tailor and school jewfish have been taken and I am certain they will be there this month as well.

Schools of sand whiting have been caught along Jewels and Blacksmiths beaches. Some anglers ran into huge whiting while other anglers not far away have come home with barely legal fish. I think the trick is live worms, which seem to take the biggest fish.

March is when a number of unusual species can visit our beaches with dart, tarwhine and even the odd cobia turning up.

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