Hoping for change
  |  First Published: October 2014

As I get stuck into this month’s report the whole of the east coast of NSW is getting soaked with rain – 100mm in places on the south coast and the northern rivers district. In our area we haven’t missed out on the rain either; it’s been making rivers dirty and causing algal blooms. Newcastle beaches have been covered in bluebottles and the waterways are near unfishable, so this is going to be a hard month for predictions.

I wanted to look at the extreme 4m swells coming in so I wandered along Horseshoe Beach to check it out. The water looked like dark coffee, not the clear sandy beach it usually is. Sand was getting dragged from the beach from the heavy swells, exposing deep rocks and old steel lines. The sea was amazing to see at that size.

Hopefully by the time you read this the rain will have backed off and conditions will be back to normal. The rain has put the river in flood with a lot of debris and dangerous fast water flows so it’s going to take a few weeks to clear, but all is not lost – it’s just going to take a little travel offshore to find the fishing.

Stockton Bight has been on the news here for over a week with warnings of a large algal bloom so fishing isn’t going to be great on the beach until that clears. Thanks to the bluebottle plague it probably isn’t somewhere you’d want to be anyway, but a few weeks can change everything and when the rain eases it may be worth fishing for mulloway that love the dirty water that will be flowing out of the Hunter River. Try tailor slabs or mullet slabs as getting livebait in close will be a real effort, if not impossible.


Offshore will be a whole different ball game. At the moment we have 4m swells with 2m seas over it so boating is well out, but there will be a window or two open with the lapse of the winds. It will be a ‘see it as you go’ affair.

Those anglers who have managed to get out to the reefs have been getting fish. The kingfish are still around in numbers and are worth chasing, snapper have hit the cleaning tables and some big mulloway that have left the river looking for better water have also been taken. Bream are on the closer reefs but venturing out further will probably make for better fishing at the moment.

A trick I was shown in my younger days was to troll the dirty water line that heads out to sea from the river. Try trolling both sides of the water, with dark lures in the dirty water side and bright lures on the clear water side. Sometimes fish will travel along the murky edge and spring out at lures in the clearer water.

Bonito have been spotted in schools well out wide, and I am sure they will have moved in closer by the time you read this. So will the school tuna that were spotted smashing bait off the Southern Canyons. Hopefully they will hit town also.


The rocks will be fishing well but it’s going to be a dangerous if the weather stays the same. Look for high ledges and don’t turn your back to the sea. Try floating pilchards at different levels for bream, tailor and school kingfish. Berley with bread for drummer, which should be around with everything getting broken off the rock shelves. Don’t take risks though – no fish is worth your life or skinned hands and knees.


As for the river itself, it will be up to the weather gods to let us know if we can fish it properly. Yes, you may get flathead by drifting baits in the dirty water, or a bream or two, but the mulloway should be a saviour as they love the cover of the water and hunt vigorously in it. It will be a bait fishing adventure though, as lures won’t been seen in the dark waters.

Kayak fishing is so big at the moment and everyone I know is getting into it, flicking soft plastics into very shallow water that can’t be accessed by a boat. With this in mind, I thought I’d pass on a clever idea a friend had for moving a canoe from the foreshore to the car or home: a small wheeled trolley. It can be attached so simply and built so easily I thought I would show you (see the photo on this page).

Anyway, let’s all hope the fishing picks up again soon. Happy fishing, Gary.

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