Use your ears to find fish
  |  First Published: December 2007

It’s that time again when the kids warn Santa there better be a lot of good fishing gear under the tree. There have been some great fishing innovations this year and I am sure you will be bombarded catalogues from all the leaders in the industry. Sitting on the couch hinting to the kids and better half about what you need is a great way to shop.

It’s a great time to get out fishing because this month things can really fire in fresh and saltwater around here.

One way to figure when to fish is to use your ears. From now until February cicadas breed and shed their skins and can be seen hanging off trees. The noise they make can sometimes be deafening but once you hear their humming, you can be sure the fishing will pick up.

A humid afternoon with the threat of a storm or rain increases the barometric pressure which can mean greater rewards for anglers. Insect such as moths, termites and cicadas scream, ‘get out fishing!’.

The Hunter River and surrounding areas have a lot of great bass water and with the extremities of the saltwater way up the rivers due to the drought, it’s possible to get an overlap of bass, flathead and bream.

On a trip to the Patterson River near Tocal, nearly 40km from the mouth of the Hunter river, a friend once hooked what we thought was a huge bass. It turned out to be a flathead over 2kg way up in the brackish water. It would’ve been a bit muddy for the plate so we let it go and started thinking just how far this fish had travelled.


Popper fishing is fast becoming the latest trend and anyone staying in tune with the latest DVD releases will surely agree. There is no better feeling than seeing a fish engulf a lure off the surface and this is the time of year when this happens. Let your ears work and once you hear the cicada invasion, get some poppers and see how you go.

Bass anglers have worked surface lures for many decades and if you have been lucky enough to walk a Crazy Crawler or a Jitterbug among the twigs and to have it disappear in a massive swirl, you will know exactly where I am coming from - it sure is an adrenalin buzz.

Devote some time and you will soon get hooked on saltwater popper fishing as well. Use silver poppers for bream, red reflective poppers for whiting and white poppers for flathead. Small ‘squirt’ retrieves work best. Long, fast retrieves are for kingfish, slow and short bursts really turn the flathead on at times.

The fishing has been pretty good in freshwater and salt. Craig Hain from Belmont Marine Sports says flathead are keeping everyone happy throughout the lake region and a few lucky anglers have taken a number of school jewfish.

Newcastle Harbour has been fishing really well with reports of big bream up around Hexham, flathead throughout the lower areas from around Mosquito Creek down to the mouth.

Bass and estuary perch have been caught just above Raymond Terrace.

On my last stint into the Patterson a few weeks ago we started gagging at an overwhelming stench. Then we saw a string of carp, all around 5kg to 10kg, hung up on the bank. Burying them would’ve been a better idea, that’s for sure.

There are a lot of carp in the Hunter system these days and some very big ones but this display put us off our afternoon food break, that’s for sure.

Whiting have shown along the beaches and the estuaries should be filling with them this month. On the beaches some school jewfish were taken around the last half of the moon.

Offshore the shark numbers are increasing. A number of mako sharks were tagged and released over the past month off Newcastle and down to Swansea. Pelagics should be around in bigger numbers also.

The prawns are running, so if you have a licensed haul net or just a scoop net, the darks around Christmas are well worth a try.

A trick I learnt in the Smiths Lakes area years ago was to anchor your boat with a big sand anchor and run the motor in reverse. It sends a pulse of water down the tidal flow and drags the prawns along. They are then easy to scoop because they aren’t on the bottom.

This really works well if you find an area about 1.2m deep where prawns are moving through.

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