Scorching weather and warm waters will make the fish run and hit our area this month. The weather is also making anglers run for the shade, as we have had some extreme heat in the past 2 months. Nobody minds too much though, because the fishing has been scorching hot as well.
Most reefs off the Hunter Coast are holding very good size teraglin and kingfish. These fish have been eating lures, both chrome and soft plastics jigged across the top of the reefs. A good option is to use no anchor when the wind is light, then as the wind picks up you can throw over a sea anchor or heavily tied bucket to slow your drift.
If you’re drifting across reefs don’t forget to drop a squid jig down. Lift it 5-10ft from the bottom then just leave it in the rod holder and wait until it bends. With live squid you can target the really big kingfish that may be around. Alternatively, if you’re like me and can’t resist a calamari dinner, you can just take your squid home.
For the bait brigade, fresh squid is the key. If you want really fresh squid but don’t have the time to catch your own, you have to get to the local fishing co-op pretty early as they are selling out very quickly.
It’s not just offshore fish that are going crazy – the beach and estuary are filling up with this year’s migration of some very nice size whiting up to around 40cm. Most fish are being caught within the first 5-6km in the river and all along Stockton beach. Beachworms, pipis and small red lures are great depending where you are fishing.
Don’t be surprised if a flathead jumps on your lures as there have been a few taken up around the Hexham area. I hate this place at night; you can box with the mosquitoes as they are so big. Even Rid Rropical and Aerogard don’t bother them. Bushman repellent is the only way to go, but it can melt or weaken certain substances like plastic (e.g. sunglass frames, car consoles). Keep it off your mono and braid as it can affect the strength, and avoid getting it on your lure or bait as the scent can put the fish off.
Tailor love January and February around here. If you come across them, don’t reach for your plastics or you will end up with a million softies with no tails. Tailor chomp so hard at times, and if they’re big greenbacks that run some of our rock ledges they can chomp the whole softy off. You get back only your jigheads and no rubber at all.
Drummer are still around. I talk to a lot of divers when I can, as they are the ones under there with the fish and they know what’s around. They tell me that drummer, red morwong and some big cod and luderick are in great numbers off Merewether, as well as the odd big blue groper. They also tell me there are patchy areas where the water is bathtub warm and other areas that are cold. This is why both winter and summer fish are in the mix together.
I have been spending my days trapping poddy mullet and white and small bluebait in poddy mullet traps; fresh is best, as they say. My son and I use them at night. Half a fresh poddy or a whole poddy can take flounder (yes, flounder!) and some big blue-nose bream. My son recently lost a Hunter River jewfish which took a poddy mullet on the new Black Magic C-Point hooks. If you think chemically sharpened hooks are sharp you’ll be very impressed with these, and they’re strong as well. The jewfish got under a wharf and snapped the line, unfortunately for my son, who still hasn’t caught his first big jew.
We’ve had fishermen come up to us and say putting a glow stick on the very end of the rod with a small plastic zip tie is a great way to see bites, and rod bells will wake you up if you nod off. They’re 2 old tricks that have been largely forgotten about, but we’ve found they have been a big help.
I have a fishing friend whose passion for fishing is unmatched. Tony ‘Smiddy’ Sloan lost his shed and all his fishing gear in the fires a bit back, so I got a few friends to band together to help him out. I want thank Wilson’s Fishing and Jennifer in particular; Jason Nunn from Fisherman’s Warehouse; and Kim from Schneider Tackle. They all generously chipped in to put a smile back on Tony’s face, and he’s out on the water again doing what he loves doing. Some people have big hearts, and I want to say thank you to all.