Offshore offers hot opportunities
  |  First Published: January 2016

Thankfully the warm water is running through our area with temperatures that are bringing us some really good fishing, especially off the shelf. Water is fluctuating between 22-25 around here at the moment in the cobalt blue water, and a lot of fish have been taken from all the FADs from the Hunter Coast, Port Stephens, Newcastle, and Swansea area.

Plenty of mahimahi and yellowtail kingfish have been showing up. With the current, nice temperatures and aand a few smart moves from fisheries, I am sure the marlin will turn up as well.

But it’s not just the wide FADs, some close buoys have been giving up fish as well. Off Newcastle the buoys are working well for tailor, mahimahi and bonito. It’s recommended to keep your engine idling and stay out of shipping lanes.

Shallow reefs have great catches of snapper, kings, cobia, school mahimahi and bonito. I do remember Spanish mackerel and cobia have turn up down here before, and they may return this year. The water temperature will let us know.

Lately, the conditions have been good one day and bad the next. Sometimes it’s a waste of money and fuel to shoot out unless you have the word, and that usually comes from the fishing clubs in your area, or really good mates.

I look at these conditions and the influence that it has on the water temperatures way out their where most people can’t get to. That also filters inshore, so the water in the shallows can become warm and swarms of certain species can move in close. You don’t need a million dollar boat to catch good fish , although we would all love one. The tip this month is to look what is close inshore, and if fish are feeding on bait balls, or if you find them schooling over a pinnacle, just try to match the hatch with you lures. Look for bait schools of slimy mackerel, yellowtail, bonito, small whitebait, spats, squid, pilchards, herring, and find a lure or use the same bait. If you’re willing to put the time in to collect it, it beats anything.

The upper reaches of the Hunter River have gotten hot. A lot of fish move downstream to cooler tidal areas, so try finding the tidal flow and follow it out. Both the north or south work, and they both can both run hard on big tides. Don’t be surprised if you hook a mulloway or bass on any run-out tide down from Raymond Terrace to Sandgate.

Besides this you have certain creek mouths, which are another good spot to flick live baits or softies, but I use all lures and all brands. In the channel of the creeks, I like poppers on top in the centre of the channel, then I’ll bounce softies on half tides, and bibbed divers on really big tides.

I know flathead love the afternoons of humidity, similar to bass, but it’s the worst time for us humans! We usually have to be there as the humidity rises and then the thunderstorms start, but you really have to get out on the first sign of lightning. Safety first. Also, the mozzies and cicadas that hatch from these storms are all great for fishing but not us, but that’s fishing.

Don’t forget this is the time the bream come back through all close beaches and break off into the estuaries, they all spread into the NSW Coast estuaries to feed on young Pacific Oysters through January, February and March. The oysters are dried and open, and the bream feed on them in this state.

Can you imagine the first punter who tried an oyster? Brave is one word for it! Happy fishing!

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