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A game of fishy poker
  |  First Published: August 2014



The extremely cold weather has hit us, and anyone in a aluminium boat sure knows what I mean – don’t leave your cushions at home, and make sure you wipe the heavy, frosty dew from the vinyl seats.

If you’re an early morning riser the fog can be dangerous, and to going ploughing along rivers to get out on the ocean or lakes you can’t hear other outboards or see other boats so take care. At times 10ft in front of you is all you can see, and that makes for dangerous travelling so going slow may be a good idea. Some cowboys get aboard and gun it through the fog soup and then see another boat and near misses occur. It happened to me once on the Hunter and it wasn’t a good experience, and I never want it to happen again.

The fishing hasn’t been too bad but it hasn’t been that good either. Picking the right day is like having a good hand in poker – sometimes you will win then other times you will lose. That’s the gamble you take.

Squid are the talk of the town, as are the mass schools of trevally and salmon. Both are in plague proportions as I write this and they will still be around while you’re reading this. The salmon have been in close and have been around 3-6kg in size. They’re great fighters and easy to catch so take the kids or someone who hasn’t fished much and watch their face light up as these salmon leap from the water. I get a real buzz from seeing their expressions when a big one gets on.

The squid have been the big green-eye monsters so don’t forget your pink or red or green large jigs. Look in calm small bays or off jetties where there are a lot of sprats or whitebait swimming around in schools. The squid won’t be too far away from them at all. Try all the sizes and colours of jigs that you have. As I’ve mentioned before, I love the Razorbacks as they have extra insurance in holding tentacles thanks to the extra hooks on the jigs’ backs.

REEFS

Over the reefs, kingfish, nannygai and trevally, as well as a few teraglin have been around.

And yes, as I missed last issue the damn leatherjackets have shown up. I am not putting these fish down at all – you can get some huge ones and they are great on a hot plate – but when it comes to taking bait they’re like a bull at a gate. Leatherjackets are the first to want to get out and scoff the bait down, leaving better fish sitting in second row. (It’s a bit like the State of Origin, where some of the leaders and big fish sat back and never gave their all.)

ROCK AND BEACH

On the beaches the bream are still running, and the mullet are there along with salmon, flounder and the odd flathead. We had a blast of 100km/h winds a bit back so new holes and gutters would have formed. This means a trek in the 4WD would be worth it.

Night fishing has been very bad. Most anglers have been fishing until just after dark, then packing up and heading home. I suspect the weather and the freezing nights are helping them make that decision!

The rocks are firing with drummer, luderick, bream, groper, squid as well as the odd squire. I saw a diver leave the water with a good bag of morwong, nice-sized red ones, and he said there were many more he missed. Try crab particles or peeled prawns over the kelpy and stony areas for them, as they are great on the plate.

OFFSHORE

I haven’t heard much about what’s happening out on the shelf, so all I can suggest is to pick a good day and troll or deep line to see if the tuna and mahi mahi (dolphinfish) are still around. I know sharks are out there though as my mate walked into the pub with a set of tiger shark jaws you could stick your head in. He said he was berleying for tuna when it arrived and he changed gear and fought it for over two hours, and predicted its size as over 150kg.

THE MONTH AHEAD

Remember this is the month when the mad westerlies hit the Hunter region, so be careful. They can blow lightly, making everything seem great to go out in the morning, then around lunchtime and afternoons… pow! They can really pick up, making for rough rides back to the ramps.

I talk to a lot of fishermen and they are astounded by the prices of fuel at the moment. It stays stable for a while, then as soon as the weekend comes up it goes like a hooked marlin. Prices can rise 5-10c. We fishermen are a mad mob, why else would we put ourselves through having blue fingers and empty pockets week after week!

In summing up, this month I recommend trolling or casting around schools of salmon, rock fishing for bream, groper and drummer, squidding and playing with the squire over shallow reef grounds. Happy fishing.

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