A heady mix of fish species to target
  |  First Published: April 2015

How time flies by; we are already over another summer season of exceptional fishing and with the water and currents turning and running back up-hill, we can expect this month to see both warm and cooler water fish species mixed together.

Flathead are still prevalent throughout the river as I pen this, and bream are running the beaches also, but expect the whiting, tailor and mulloway to thin out from here. The ocean is now coming alive with drummer, salmon, trevally and leatherjackets, which I have been told are already turning up in numbers on the close reefs, as are the dreaded sweep — or as we know them Newcastle bream. It’s funny that, I think they got the name as there are so many taken in this area over winter that the label just stuck and most anglers know them this way.

Firstly though, the beaches are fishing very well for bream, flathead, mulloway and whiting, but the latter will decline slowly, so this is usually the last month they are taken in any size and good numbers. The bream, on the other hand, have been on the bite with plenty of nice sized table fish taken on all beaches, with Stockton being the pick.

Rough days and good deep gutters are the 2 things you should be looking for, as well as some nice bait such as worms, pipis, messy mullet gut, and mullet fillets or half a good quality pilchard. With these as bait, you will also take the flathead that are laying on the side of the holes and deeper channels along the beaches.

As you are reading this, you will need a permit to access Redhead and Blacksmiths Beach. This has been brought into effect because a few idiots go driving up into the sand stabilisation areas and leave rubbish behind, but hopefully there will be a small window of grace so anglers can get hold of them, as it sometimes takes a while for tourists who come from other areas to get into the know.

Off the rocks, luderick are entering the river and estuaries, and drummer should be ready to break everything you put in the water. Spinning for salmon, the odd tailor, and school tuna, should make a day on the rocks a great time out, but please be careful as over this past summer a number of lives have been lost in very well used areas, even with life rings in place. Don’t think it’s just while you’re fishing either, as it can happen when collecting weed and crabs close to the edge, so don’t turn your back to the sea and have friends watching out for you.

Offshore, schools of small kingfish and table snapper have been the talk of the town. I was at Stockton boat ramp and saw a few boats turn up at the cleaning table with a good mix of fish from the close reefs off Newcastle; snapper around 2kg, kingfish around 6kg, morwong and nannygai thrown in, as well as the humble old leatherjacket. I spotted a few big sergeant bakers, which I have tried to prepare in different ways over the years due to their exceptional size and meat content, but I can’t eat them except in a fish curry. Blokes who smoke them say they come up okay, so I will have to try that out soon.

I was wetting a line up at Tomago not long back, and watched small tinnies being launched and retrieved. I don’t know why, but many people just reverse back and sink the whole trailer. If I am putting a small boat in, I never cover the bearings, stopping short of letting them get wet. I see this on numerous occasions and know why I pass so many stranded boats on the side of the road needing new bearings to get them on their way again. So that’s my tip this month; unless you have a huge fibreglass or exceptionally heavy boat, there is no reason to do it. I threw this out at a local fishing club meeting recently and most said the same — they don’t sink the bearings to get a small boat on and off a trailer. Think of the time and savings you will make.


I see this all the time — small boats being launched with the trailer sunk so deep that water is getting into hot bearings. If possible, push the boat off the trailer with the water just lapping under them — it will save you time and money over the long run.


A nice table flathead taken on a soft plastic at night in the Hunter River. Fishing under lights where insects fall into the water represents a free feed for many species.


Trevally are back in the catch bags. Not the greatest fish on the plate, but they come up okay with herbs and spices on a barbecue.

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