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Winter fish on the chew
  |  First Published: July 2014



This month’s Hunter Coast report has been supplied by Paul Lennon.

I can’t remember a better patch of late autumn weather than what we experienced this year. The weather was glamorous, with winds rarely exceeding 15 knots and very little swell. On top of this the water temps remained unseasonably warm, hovering between 20-22ºC. Weather-wise it's was as though we were a month behind. It made for some phenomenal fishing but also meant a few fish that prefer chillier times of the year like salmon, luderick and drummer were still a bit slow. That being said, I'm sure by the time this goes to print winter will be in full swing with the typical winter species chewing their heads off.

The break walls have been producing good numbers of mulloway with fish up to 20kg recently reported. A few mates have been spinning for them with plastics and hardbodies during the night high-tide changes and doing very well. If you want to use live baits you can often berley up yellowtail from the Stockton break wall although you may need to try a few different places along it until you find them. The most consistent area I find to get them is the wreck about three quarters of the way up on the northern side.

Once you have a few live baits keep them going in a bucket with an aerator and wait for that prime time around the high tide change. Both Nobbys and Stockton walls have also been producing some good tailor on dawn and dusk for anglers casting metals or ganged pilchards or gar.

Bream fishing has been pretty good as well with those using lightly weighted mullet strips or prawns on 1/0 hooks having the best results. If you're fishing the river there are also quality bream holding around any bit of structure they can find. This might be around a bridge, pylon, rock bars, points or oyster racks. The most effective way to fish these areas is to anchor up a cast distance from the structure and throw unweighted live nippers down the edge of it. Use plenty of berley if you really want to get serious. A mixture of bread, chicken pellets and tuna oil works well. And if you're more lure inclined you won’t miss out as 2-3” plastics on light jigheads or small hard bodies will be just as effective fished over the same areas.

Flathead are still in healthy numbers and this will continue until the water temp drops. The mouth of Fullerton Cove has been fishing particularly well for them of late, with soft plastics by far the most effective technique for them. Other areas worth a shot are around Tomago through to Hexham.

Luderick have been patchy but I know a few fishos who have had some cracking sessions at the Cowrie hole as well as down at Lucys Wall. No doubt from here on in the luderick fishing will only get better and better.

BEACHES

Most of the beaches have been fishing great lately. There have been plenty of stud bream coming from the surf, particularly for those anglers making the effort to use quality baits such as live beach worms or pipis.

Due to the warm water, late season whiting have been on the chew and a welcome bycatch for those targeting bream. Remember though, it’s no good just rocking up anywhere or anytime along the beach and expect to fill the bucket with bream and whiting. It's critical that you fishing in the right place and at the right time. Look for the gutters and fish them about an hour before through to an hour after the high tide.

There are plenty of reports of tailor from Stockton Beach on dawn and dusk by those throwing ganged pilchards or gar. Speaking of tailor on Stockton Beach, there was an absolute monster caught in the nets by professional fisherman earlier in the month that weighed an incredible 10kg!

It's been a great month for mulloway and the surf has been no exception with quite a few fish over the magical 20kg mark being taken. These fish have mainly come from anglers during night sessions, casting either live baits or large fresh mullet or tailor fillets. Another bait that is also a favourite when used whole is the humble beach worm on a 4/0 long shank hook. The good part about using worms is you also tend to pick up a few bream and whiting during each outing.

OUTSIDE

Plenty of pan-sized reddies are coming from the dumping grounds with the odd better fish of around 3-4kg also being taken. I’ve found that 5” Gulp Jerk Shads work a treat here on both the smaller fish as well as the larger models. Just be sure to weight them fairly lightly, with a 1/4oz to 3/8oz jighead ideal. Alternatively, you can fish baits like pilchards or squid and again lightly weighted so they waft down in a very natural and enticing fashion.

The same methods will work successfully around North Reef, which has also been holding good numbers of reddies. Kingfish are also still being caught here with plastics doing the job. If you're after a bigger model I suggest trying to get a live yellowtail or squid to put down.

Where the reef meets the sand there have been numbers of quality sand flathead hanging on the edges. Drift these edges with a paternoster rig and you should have no problem taking home a feed of flatties.

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