Bream it on!
  |  First Published: April 2007

How our fishing can change so much for the better in a few weeks is incredible! A little rain, some strong nor’-easters punching the warm water our way and suddenly the place is alive with fish.

The greatest news is the number of jewfish that have turned up in the Hunter. School jewfish and a few real monsters have been caught of late. If I were a mullet right now I would be one nervous fish.

The largest jewie I have heard so far this year was a staggering 28kg model taken from Horseshoe Beach. While the details of its capture are a little sketchy, I know it was taken on a whole pilchard and that it wasn’t the only fish hooked on the night. Whether it was a shore-based angler or someone on a boat remains a mystery.

A few ventures have seen my son and I do OK. My son captured his first jewfish ever on a livebait and I have a sore ear from hearing about it, The same night a rod was snapped clean in half on our boat and a TLD 25 screamed its song from a boat close by. These guys got a nice fish around 14kg and lost another a lot bigger, so throughout this month I’d have the big gear out and put in some effort to rounding up livebait and have a go in the Harbour.

Although only the start of their annual movements, bream have been reported by nearly everyone I have spoken to over the past few weeks. A few great fish have been taken, mostly in the estuary. River lure casters have done well and most afternoon beach anglers have run into some good patches.

It amazes me that at this time of year I am usually ranting about the numbers of flathead around but they have been very quiet. If last year’s seasonal upset is anything to go by, Winter was the best time for them because the area held warm water for a long time. Hopefully that will happen again.

With the warmer water off Newcastle there have been huge schools of frigate mackerel and a lot of the locals have been having some fun. Frigates make excellent bait for estuary fishing and for trolling whole on the wide grounds so look for them over the closer reefs. The smaller the chrome lure, the better the results, as one team that was guided out around Stockton found out.

Big blue swimmer crabs are still worth the effort. Around the Toule Street bridge area down to Hexham has been the best.


The northern channel of the Hunter River just isn’t working as well as the southern channels and I’d say the opening of the floodgates at Hexham is playing a big part. As I mentioned last month, this will have a great effect on fishing in these parts. The volumes of water being let through hold abundant baitfish and prawns which were in Iron Bark Creek and around the back of the Shortlands Wetland Centre. Now they can roam around and over the next few years I am expecting to hear of some great fish taken around here.

Offshore has been hit-and-miss. Craig Hain from Belmont Sports, one of the most diehard fishermen in our area, reports that the reefs are firing with snapper one day and nothing the next.

If you find this happening then changing tactics might help. A lot of people find the reef, anchor up and put out baits hoping something comes along but there are so many options when on a good ground. Jigging soft plastics while drifting, livebaiting at different levels in the water column, floating baits out the back with no weight – give everything a try.

We tend to be creatures of habit when we fish our favourite reef so often and become set in our ways. It usually takes a shunt from someone with you to say, ‘Hey, let’s try this or that’, or ‘Have you tried that here?’.

Put on a squid jig and see if they’re down there. Once you get one, try it instead of a fish bait. Just a little thing can change a day out. It doesn’t always work but giving something a go at least takes away the boredom of just sitting there waiting.

I predict this month will fish really well now that the current has pushed in the warm water that was up around Port Stephens. Chasing jewfish on the moon or the larger tides in the river this month will definitely be worth a shot, as will the close bait reefs.

The beaches should come alive with whiting along with scattered bream and flathead. The flatties should come into play at any time now because there are lots of baitfish around.

Offshore trolling should be worth the effort with the numbers of marlin and bonito which have shown up.

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