Eye on water temp
  |  First Published: November 2007

I love this time of year; the warmth entices you to get the gear out and roam the waterways.

Hopefully the water will lift a degree or three and the fish come in and stay put along the Hunter Coast for a while. We probably got only one full month of really cold water and weather over the Winter and the same goes for the year before.

To any serious angler water temperature is the most important factor in interpreting what may be happening for their target species. Each species has its favourite temperature tolerances. We are having strange conditions in this area because over the Winter we were catching ‘warm water’ species flathead and whiting mixed with travelling bream and luderick, drummer and tailor. Salmon, I think, are adapting to anywhere there is food .

The flathead are enlivened by the warmer water and have really turned on, as have the bream in the estuaries.

I think offshore fishing this season will be excellent because the currents out wide have raised the ocean temperature and moved in closer where those in smaller boats can access the fish. Quite a few people agree the water is already warmer than it has been in the past two Springs.


Shallow-water spinning is popular now with converted bait fishos and it’s more exciting than just waiting for a bite. The kids are increasingly getting involved, wandering along the sand or mudflats in less than 50cm of water, where flathead and bream lurk. And by downsizing the lures and adding a red bead, whiting come into play also.

I have excited a few people who come fishing by making a simple scope to view under the water. It’s a length of PVC piping about 100mm in diameter with a circle of perspex siliconed in the end. I can stick it into the shallows and see fish roaming around under the boat along the bottom, mostly bream, flathead and whiting.

Drifting in clear water with the motor shut down, everyone is surprised at the number of fish, even though they mightn’t be grabbing the lures. It’s a bit like snorkelling in that the fish seem larger than they really are, but for keeping kids busy while you drift along, it’s great. You should add a lanyard so it doesn’t get lost overboard.

The kids yell out the name of everything they see and if you hook up they watch the action under water and give a running commentary – heaps of fun.

Flathead have been the main fish to chase with bream smashing the lures as well. They like some variety in bottom structure, such as short-strand seagrass beds and the edges of long-strand seagrass beds, varied depths and short, steep drop-offs. Poddy mullet love to swim along these places so match the lure to their size or to whitebait or prawns.

One other little trick is to use the fluorocarbon leaders. Through our home-made scope it is invisible. Don’t use snap swivels because while a knot can’t be seen, a clip can.

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