Get keen and play mean
  |  First Published: September 2007

Most keen Newcastle fishos get frustrated with the cold weather and water and those west to south-west winds that can sometimes blow up to 30 knots.

No wonder we get frustrated but this is where keenness comes to the fore.

We need to get out of our comfort zone and recapture the spirit of fishing. Yes , sure it’s still often cold and definitely windy but this time of year can offer some great fishing that can sometimes be overlooked.

The westerlies and cooler water are the best combination to take advantage of the lower rock platforms around Redhead, Dudley and Catherine Hill Bay.

Paul Merryman has the type of keenness I am talking about. He’ll go fishing when the weather is rough and cold and this is sometimes the best time fish because the elements provide perfect feeding conditions for the targeted species.

Paul has been fishing the rocks with large strip baits of tuna and squid which he casts into the whitewater washes close to the rock edges.

As well as snapper, big drummer, bream and trevally can be taken.

Different baits and smaller hooks are required for these. A Mustad 542 1/0 hook baited with a peeled prawn or abalone gut and a size 0 ball sinker will do the trick .

Another local, Ryan Potter, also has the same keenness to fish in whatever conditions exist all year round. The picture of his 1.8kg tailor that was taken off Catherine Hill Bay beach is good testament to his keenness and effort.

There have been salmon and kingfish on the beaches, even during some pretty average conditions. Good old gang-hooked pilchards are as good as anything in these situations.

So don’t despair, the fish are there – get out of your chair and have a dare!


In previous issues I’ve offered to give out some GPS co-ordinates in Lake Macquarie to give some opportunities to catch a lake snapper.

I must say thanks to all of you who contacted me for the marks and it is encouraging to find out that so many people read my articles. I am looking forward to receiving your feedback when you fish these spots.

My main fishing rules to remember are:

• Anchor on the windward side of the reefs and feed the anchor rope back so the wind holds you approximately 3m to 5m away from the structure.

• Fish with 5kg to 6 kg line, no sinker and a 2/0 suicide hook.

• Cast away from the boat and let the unweighted bait float down to the bottom. Best baits are pilchard tails, prawns and bottle squid .

• Berley with bread, chicken pellets and tuna oil. There’s no need to go overboard with the amount you put in the water, a little, often, will go a long way.

• Best times to fish are before daylight and just before dark and into the evening. The other ideal time is when it is rough, windy and overcast or raining.

• Above all, remain as quiet as possible. You must avoid noise like dropping things on the bottom of the boat and yelling out ‘yee-ha!’ when you’ve landed a good fish.


I find it amusing and encouraging to think that there are so many private competitions being organized among anglers in the local area and further afield.

Competitions organised within a group of friends can be for the biggest fish, most fish and so on. Most ones I have heard about are for the biggest fish.

The competition names are most amusing, such as BFH Comp, (big – hook) and the annual competition I organise, the Fillet and Release Tour for the biggest snapper.

So if you are part of or organize such a competition, let me know and I’ll form some sort of calendar for some exposure and to share laughs with all the readers.


Ryan Potter fished some rather ordinary conditions to snare this 1.8kg tailor on a gang-hooked pilchard.


Paul Merryman with two outstanding snapper from the rocks at Catherine Hill Bay.


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