Flatties and bream the mainstay
  |  First Published: October 2015

Our part of the coast has seen some funny weather and some very unusual fishing. One week the water would be 17°C, and the next it would plummet, turn green and hit around 14°C on some southern current lines bringing water up from the south. It’s amazing how a change like that can affect the fishing, turning it cold overnight.

I had a gut-wrenching feeling on a recent trip into the city not long ago. I sat and watched a school of salmon move along the back of Newcastle baths, with clouds of birds hitting the bait the salmon were feeding on. Then the birds starting wheeling around about eight surfers who were sitting on the back of the swells looking for a wave. I’m glad I wasn’t out there, as it would have been unnerving sitting in the feeding frenzy, especially with the amount of coverage about the sharks that have been in close over the past few months all along the coast. Still, it didn’t seem to worry the surfers as the massive school went straight under them, and with birds diving all round these guys all stayed out there. (They definitely have bigger sinkers than me; I would have been on that shore in five seconds flat, wave or no wave.)

Along with the salmon, which this month should start to thin out, there have been reports of big bream taken along the rocks on both sides of Newcastle harbour. Floating prawns out has been working, and a small split shot or no sinker at all has been the best method. There is no reason why you can’t get them from the shore, but you hardly see anglers along the harbour rocks inside the harbour, as most prefer to take the long walk out to the break waters. I’ve seen some large bream lurking around the rocks near the tugboat tying area and wished I had a rod in the car.

Close around the pylons at the brewery there are some huge resident bream, and luderick haunt this area as well. I’m sure just a little up from the busy area you would get some if you had a bit of berley to entice them to you.

This month, as the weather keeps warming up, the flathead and bream will be the mainstay for small boat anglers whenever it’s too rough outside. A bit of a bump on the water is good for the fishing in spring though. If it comes from the south or northeast, it can send the snapper into a better feeding mode as they move in close over the gravel beds to spawn. Washes around headlands can see them move into feed, so a little chop (as long as it’s safe) is a godsend where snapper fishing are concerned.

This month can really deliver fabulous fishing. Tide changes during the early morning, afternoon and into the night can see bags of bream, flathead, tailor, mulloway and teraglin coming in, so let’s keep our fingers crossed that the water warms up a little more and the fishing goes nuts.

I recently saw a line of boats end-to-end around Stockton break wall, which pretty much confirms that the mulloway are moving into the harbour. If you ever see the boats in numbers lined up here or out from the pilot station on the drop-over, you can bet that someone has spread the word that the mulloway are on. It’s first in, best spot. Live squid, yellowtail, legal size tailor and pike are the best baits at this time of year, as we haven’t got the influx of slimy mackerel schools down this way yet. They usually show up in numbers next month.


Newcastle’s reefs are holding large nannygai, snapper, kingfish and trevally, and in some places leatherjackets and squire. The squire are up around the 1-3kg mark, and the best reefs have been the dumping grounds by far. Drifting with pilchards has been the way most anglers have been taking them. Try the Merewether reefs as well if the conditions are safe enough to get down to them. It’s best to anchor on these reefs rather than drift, as they’re mostly smaller reefs than the huge dumping grounds.

North of the harbour in the bight, the water has been green. Hopefully this will have changed by the time you read this, and there’ll be some blue water from the north so we can get out amongst the kingfish that are usually schooled up over the small pinnacles like North Reef and the Marbles.


As a side note, the other day I was introduced to a fish that I never seen before. Wayne Marsh, a keen Charlestown fisherman, showed me a picture of what he said was a tassel snout flathead. At first I thought he had Photoshopped a dusky as a joke. To me it looks like a cross between a sergeant baker, flathead, gurnard and rock cod. One hellava weird fish! He got it drifting in close along the Hunter Coast reefy areas.

Anyway, here’s hoping the fishing gets a lot better this month. Happy fishing!

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