Bring on the big bream!
  |  First Published: March 2007

Conditions around have been fluctuating – one week we have warm water then the next it drops down around 15°C. it’s a roll of the dice to see what it deals you.

As I write this, anglers are still taking large amounts of tailor on the southern end of Stockton beach, along with big catches of salmon. It’s a bit worrying, I know, but at least something is there.

But it all isn’t bad news, with some good size bream lurking around in the estuary. My mate Chris Jelfs from Salt Ash and I fished fairly hard in the estuary and he captured two nice bream on lures, one a real ripper just under 2kg. My son and I managed two just legal dusky flathead and a 1kg bream all taken on lures. For those few fish we fished very hard!

Others we bumped into had much the same to say: “one minute it’s hot then it shuts down like a broken roller door”.

But March is well known for better fishing. It really turns around and fires at times, the waters will warm and the holiday makers will have shot through. I’m predicting another funny year with water warming now and hanging around until later on as it did last year. In 2006 we had warm currents hanging on this part of the coast well up until September, and the fishing was brilliant.

Tony and Aaron from Toronto Tackle reported that a few locals from the lake bumped into a school of rat kingfish which cruised around the western side of the lake for a while. Most were only around 80cm but, seeing as most lake anglers fish with light gear, they would have had heaps of fun on them. Coal Point was where the locals found them, but rumour has it the kings have also been cruising around the power station outlet and the north side of Pulbah Island.

The Hunter has also had hot and cold fishing. A few school jew have been caught up around the Hexham area, but the biggest issue in this area will be the opening of the floodgates at Hexham. The amount of water that will flow when the gates are fully open will have a big impact on the fishing in the river. One gate is open at the moment and filling Iron Bark creek and even a few fish have been taken, mostly small bream. However, when the expanse of land the water will cover is full, the extensive amount of habitat for breeding fish will be something I think we’ve needed for years to enhance the fishery in the Hunter River. The tidal flow on big moons might surprise many.

Other news from around Hexham is the amount of blue swimmers still coming from that area. From there upstream to Sandgate has fired, with little or few taken within the harbour itself. If we get some decent rainfall this will change and the fishing should become a bit better up around Stockton.

Raymond Terrace, usually the area of brackish water from the two rivers that junction here, is very salty at the moment and jewfish and bream have been caught around here lately. The bass are holding up high and the saltwater has seen also some nice size flathead around the twin bridges. We really need some good solid rain to flush the fish down around the harbour where they are easier to catch; until then I recommend heading upstream for some better results.

The beaches through March can fire, and the bream that move along the beaches early are usually the larger ones. Every year I have been with someone who has landed a cracker bream in March, Arnold Joseph from Freddy’s Tackle got a fish over 2kg on Hawks Nest beach two years ago in March, and last year a bream which tipped the scales at 2.5kg came from Stockton Beach. Both fish were skinny but were so large that if they were full of food they would have hit the magic 3kg mark. With the size of the fish in the estuary holding up higher than usual, I’m sure this month someone will get a ripper that seems to travel first in smaller schools.

Offshore has been slow. Even diehard fishers like Barry Latham, who loves drifting in about 40ft for flathead and squire, have had little action. But March can turn and the water can bring some good fishing with it. The reefs should hold squire and morwong as well as bream which feed on their travels. Surface fish haven’t showed as yet but any day they could make a good appearance – that’s not counting tailor and salmon, which haven’t left these waters for nearly a year.

Marlin have been taken out wide but the bluewater is way out, closer to New Zealand than to us I reckon. It took a three-hour trek to find some opal blue – an expensive trip for just three bonito and two rat kings. Most big boats haven’t bothered yet.

My tips for this month are to get set for some good beach and estuary fishing for bream. The whiting (although small now) should turn up if the water warms just a touch more, flathead should be over their lethargic state and will feed more freely in the estuary through this month. Don’t forget the witch’s hats, as crabs are around in good numbers and should stay well into April. And the water offshore I am positive will hold better fishing. Happy fishing!


1) Chris Jelfs with his first ever lured bream.

2) A large octopus like this makes excellent bait for bream, snapper and jewfish. Just skin the legs and expose the white flesh – you’ll be surprised at what you can catch.

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