Plenty of estuarine critters to enjoy
  |  First Published: May 2016

The big news is the hairtail have returned in huge numbers and are filling up the waters in Newcastle. Nobody knows a lot about these eel lookalikes, as they only turn up once every now and again, and it’s probably been over four years since the last time we have had them move in.

The funny thing is they only enter two estuaries along the coast, the Hawkesbury and the Hunter rivers. They are like a chrome eel with fangs like a dog, so they’re not the best fish to fool around with. If you want to target them, you’ll want a wire trace and a starlight stick on top of a float to see it being pulled down at night, and I have seen them at 6ft long, but the usual size is around 3-4ft.

The basin looks like a fairyland at night, and it’s shoulder to shoulder with anglers trying to catch hairtail most days, but like all fishing they can take off at any day and may not be back for years.

Offshore has been a very hard slog, as the water is green and cold one day and blue and warm the next. It will cool from here though, and all our winter fish will be back again.

The number of squid I have heard of being taken lately has been amazing, with some anglers saying you could walk across the top of them. Horseshoe Beach and the small sandy cay between the two rock walls on the Stockton side have been the place to be. When fresh they are a great bait and since they are in such great numbers, I have been told some nice bream and school mulloway have come from the same two places. If they hang around we could be in for a good kingfish month.

Further offshore, trevally, morwong, nannygai, the odd lost marlin and mahimahi are still around, and school kingfish are showing up with the tailor. The tailor are mostly just legal size, so please release them.

I was shown a photo of a fish the other night on a phone that a local at Redhead caught, and at the time I couldn’t identify it, but later I found out it was a stripped sea perch. It was taken over shallow reef, so we have had a funny month here with some strange fish species turning up! Let’s hope it stays that way through the rest of autumn and into winter.

The flathead in the reaches up around Raymond Terrace have been playing ball lately, and this month will probably be the last time we will see them all year. Downstream from there to Hexham, some nice fish have come in, mostly on large prawns.

Speaking of prawns, I have been using cooked prawns to good effect, especially on the bream, and what I don’t eat becomes my bait. I have been floating them along Honeysuckle Shoreline and doing quite well. When the tide starts to run, I add sinkers as I need them and it works pretty well as the water is deep in very close to the rock walls.

Archie’s charity night

In March, the benefit night that was hosted by the Charlestown Bowling Club for little Archie Percival went off with a bang. A lot of money was raised and it was so packed that we just couldn’t believe it. I want to really thank Jacqui Thomas, Steve Morgan, Nicole Penfold, Josh Lowry, Marc Huisken, Kim Schneider, Simon Walker and everyone else who got involved. It goes to show us anglers come to the party when someone is in need. I hope it helps and that Archie gets better soon.

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