Rocks and offshore fire up
  |  First Published: July 2013

Get out the beanies, jumpers and jackets, it’s that time when the early-morning fisho can nearly freeze to death, especially if you’re shooting along in a boat at speed.

The fishing has been pretty good as the water starts to run back uphill toward the north. Even though the water is a lot colder there is still some hot fishing to be had.

Flathead, bream and the odd whiting are still being caught on the beaches and in the river, and that’s surprising me.

The big news is offshore and from the rocks.

Big drummer have been taken along the rocks with bream and snapper. All three are also showing up off the ends of both of the Hunter River sea walls.

You can anchor your boat so you’re a good cast from the end of the Stockton or Nobbys wall and float baits in along where the rocks meet the bottom.

Anchor so you sit in a safe position and make sure that if your boat swings on the wind you can’t possibly hit the rocks. A good spot to sit is at the back of the Adolph wreck, where you can float prawns and pilchard halves for bream and the odd flathead and drummer. Squid also love this area when it’s very calm.


On the wider reefs snapper, morwong, nannygai and school kingfish are tempted by fresh bait or soft plastics. Try reefs like The Marbles, The Pines and the Stockton wreck and the abundant spots around the North Reef buoy.

I like to fish North Reef. About 20m to the south-east there is a drop from about 9m to 25m – a great place to find kingfish and jewfish, especially using fresh squid or live yellowtail in Winter or slimy mackerel in Summer.

From here you can let the anchor go and drift away from the ledge and get some sand flathead on yellowtail fillets.

To the east of the buoy, the reef proper is usually covered in yellowtail although squid abound here also.

It’s shallow, so fish light. Drift across the top in around 10m-14m and jig soft plastics or small chrome lures over the bottom bumps and small humps. This is a great way to hook school kings here.

Have a squid jig out and lift it about 3m off the bottom and let it just bounce around until a squid finds it

You can troll past close the buoy but don’t tie to it, that’s illegal as well as dangerous. That buoy is also so big it can ruin a boat’s gelcoat or paint – or worse in rough weather.

Cast chrome lures or flies to the buoy for tailor, kingfish, bonito and at times mahi mahi.

I know it’s a pretty busy fishing spot but at times you can really get onto some great action if you persist there.

I have seen anglers there using fresh crabs to catch 10kg-15kg groper. I have also seen 200kg hammerhead sharks, 30kg-plus mulloway and some kingfish that would blow even the most experienced angler’s mind – it’s just a case of being Johnny on the spot.

Early mornings can be great for big bream on very light tackle with really fresh prawns.

I get most of my bait on the spot – yellowtail, squid, herring and slimies, and my prawns come straight from the co-op on my way from the Carrington boat ramp.

There could be some wild weather this month so rock fishing for drummer should be a drawcard after any rough seas. Don’t take stupid risks, though.

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