A great winter
  |  First Published: September 2014

What a great winter we’ve had on this part of the coast! We’ve enjoyed mild days and just cool nights, and let’s hope this stays like this so we can still get out and have a fish. It’s been pretty good on the close reefs with only a few wild westerly days keeping anglers at home.

Starting on the close reefs there has been a nannygai plague with a hell of a lot blue morwong joining them. Some great kingfish have shown up on the Marbles and North reefs, along with squire and snapper on the Dumping grounds and school jewfish turning up here at night. Salmon have shown up in mass schools off Merewether and are hanging out in Stockton Bight also. Bream, tailor and squid are being taken but along with all these the winter fish are mixing in. Leatherjackets and larger than large yellowtail are probably the reason there are so many kingfish around.


Off the rocks bream, luderick, drummer and the dreaded sweep are biting. Early mornings are best, and don’t be surprised to bump into tailor around sunset either, with a few being taken off Nobbys and Stockton walls. They’re not huge fish but they’re fun on light gear.

Groper have still been busting up even the heaviest gear off Stockton wall. An Alvey spooled with 60lb braid or 50lb mono with even heavier traces are the sure way to hold onto these fish as they try to blow your gear up as they dive into holes and over reefs.

The beaches on windless days have been fishing for bream, tailor and salmon. I was told a guy hooked into a great white shark off Stockton Beach. Thinking it was a large whaler, he fought on for over two hours only to lose it. They saw the fin only a few times so couldn’t really identify it. Remember whites are protected and shouldn’t be targeted off the beach, even if there are a lot around.

Steve Kiss, a brilliant angler who has caught everything through his life, sent me a photo of a snapper he caught that went 8kg cleaned, so it would definitely have been on the 10kg mark. From a close reef off the coast it’s a magnificent catch. He also fought a cod for over two hours on light gear only to find out it was a protected black cod.

I have seen photos of Steve’s younger day adventures with yellowfin tuna over 80kg, and I have to say he certainly has the knack of finding the biggest fish. I fished with him one night and he hooked two mulloway on a kids’ light rod baited with pilchard, and landed them both.


When it comes to the fishing in September, the Hunter River harbour can give up big mulloway for those live baiting. There are also groper around if you want to put in the effort, tailor on chromies and salmon off the walls. You can get squid on the wreck side of Stockton wall, bream around the wharfs and you might even bump into some estuary perch at this time of year in the harbour. Happy fishing!

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