I’m hoping that by now the westerly winds are starting to ease a little. They have a tendency to whip up the water and make for very dangerous times, especially in smaller boats, so this month be careful if you’re out and about and they blow up.
In saying that, a westerly can also be a helpful tool for fishing.
It can push bait into a certain area where fish will follow and feed, and it also flattens the seas and allows you to get just off the coast into water that looks like you could ice skate on it.
In water such as this it can at times be very easy to see to schools of salmon, tailor or small tuna working the surface.
This part of the world hasn’t been the greatest for fishing lately. It’s been freezing cold, windy and the water has been either green or gin-clear, both conditions hard to fish in.
But all is not lost and some of the reports I’ve been hearing indicate that the upper parts of the Hunter River are fishing pretty well.
Bream have been taken up around Hexham, Tomago and around Raymond Terrace, both on lures and bait, and a mate recently caught a 12kg carp while targeting bream on bread just up from the junction of the Williams River and the Hunter.
He swore it was a jewfish until he saw the golden shine in the murky water. When he did see it was a carp he said he couldn’t believe the size of it and the fight it gave.
Years ago I fouled-hooked a carp around this same area while trolling for bass. I thought I had the flathead of all time but I’d hooked this massive goldfish in the tail and it went crazy, dragging me up and down the river.
I thought the tail drumming back and forth was head-shakes from a huge flathead. All the patrons in the nearby pub came out to see this bloke that had been dragged up and down the river for 20 minutes but I said some unprintable words when I saw it was a carp.
Cruising close inshore wearing polarised sunglasses can be great in the clear water. You can see the bottom in the shallows and can actually spot the fish if the water is clear enough.
I have been using the new floating sunnies from Barz and off the front of Newcastle Baths I could see the bream schools as we travelled over them. All the fish were small but there were plenty of them.
Then we went targeting groper but unfortunately didn’t get any on the day although we saw a few. I hate it when you know the fish are there but can’t get them to bite – it’s really frustrating.
The reefs have masses of trevally and the dreaded leatherjackets, as well as some sweep.
I’m hoping that this month we will see a change and early Spring snapper will start to move in. There are plenty of small baitfish around so fingers crossed.
Trolling over the reefs for kingfish may be a better option than dropping baits, but change to bait at night or live bait so the jackets, sweep and trevally don’t hound you away from your spots.
School jewfish, kingies and school sharks have been around in enough numbers to make this worth a try.
In Newcastle Harbour itself there have been a few school jew about but only little tackers around 5kg-8kg.
Tailor and salmon have been around and still should be this mouth, so trolling out near the weather buoy or around the Stockton wreck could be a way to find them; these places hold bait at times.
Soft plastics dropped in deep water around Lee Wharf and up around the drop-offs along Kooragang Island should produce bream.
Flicking lures in under the piers and wharfs can also produce a good bag because in the daytime the fish love to hide under them, especially around the wheat silo area.
Luderick are all over the place, especially along the rocks under the Stockton bridge area as well as in town around Horseshoe Beach.
Horseshoe I would easily rate as the hottest luderick spot, although the rocks out the front of the baths at Newcastle and Merewether here hold good strand weed and cabbage and can fish very well at times. Don’t be surprised if you hook a drummer or two around these areas, either.
Most crabbers follow the old rule about working their dillies in the months that have the letter R in them.
Up around Sandgate or on the Stockton side near the boiler wrecks are great places to start, and then move deeper into the river as the month progresses.
Around Mosquito Creek and the rail bridge can work well also.
I prefer luderick or mullet frames at first then as the days get warmer and the numbers of crabs lift, you can use any old bait.
• Troll as soon as you leave any river or lake heading to sea, keeping an eye out for bait schools or any surface disturbance.
• Live-bait over the reefs with large yellowtail, garfish, squid or mullet, to avoid the pickers.
• Look where the wind is pushing the water, across a river bend or anywhere it is lapping a shoreline. Toss soft plastics and small metals and see if the baitfish are balled up there.
• Try for blue swimmer crabs.
• Look for patches of warmer water over shallow sandflats or along colour changes. Flathead and flounder love these spots.