Artificial reefs to hit the Hunter Coast
  |  First Published: August 2016

The Fisheries Department is looking to find areas to drop artificial reefs, in the near future, which is great news for anglers. Hopefully they will end up in a spot that is close enough for trailer boats to reach. There have been a lot of these put out in the past, off Botany Bay, Nowra, and other south coast areas. When you look north from Sydney, Swansea or Newcastle seem to deserve the reefs the most, we have a huge number of fishing clubs in this area and natural reefs exist north of here anyway.

The reefs off Newcastle and Swansea are few and far between and most are gravel patches or small reefs. The fishing clubs in this area should band together and put in an application and with the numbers of clubs here, this may give us a chance. Don’t forget we have a shipping port and all the equipment to make the job easy for fisheries to have this taken out to sea – let’s hope we end up with it.

The fishing lately has been sweet at times then quickly turns sour. You really have to pick the tides and day. Drummer and luderick, as well as bream have been taken off the rocks around the washes, and some big groper are hunting these areas as well. Divers have seen a few large models off the front of Merewether Baths, as well as schools of bream and tailor around the platforms. Salmon are travelling through, so try throwing chrome lures right out into the back of the suds and pull them through the wash to see a few hook-ups.

The beaches have been fishing well at night, and Stockton and Nobbys beaches especially have given up a few nice mulloway around the 10kg mark. If you downsize your rig, bream can be found just after dark on small cubes of mullet. Not a lot of anglers fish Nobbys Beach, as the Council has made it very hard to spend a night out fishing, with parking restrictions in the area. Cars have been reported stolen from this area, so it is best to be careful. You cannot park overnight and the parking officers check after midnight.

Offshore has been a hot and cold affair, with the north reef covered in baitfish yakkas, squid, and pike. You would think that the kingfish and mulloway would have escaped the fresh in the river and be thriving out there, but little in numbers have filtered through. Some big bream have been taken by fishers getting bait over the sailing boat wreck out from the Surf Club on Stockton Beach and schools of salmon in great numbers are in Stockton Bight – the birds will show you where they are. There has also been some tailor travelling with them, and sand flathead are on the sand around the Mudhole. Drifting with slabs of any filleted fish will snag them, and some have been of good size.

An angler reportedly saw a shadow under the boat and believed it to belong to a great white shark, but it was actually an oceanic hammerhead of about 13ft long. After surfacing and giving the two anglers a fright, off it went. Unusually for a deep-sea shark, this hammerhead was in close, but the Mud Hole often sees large sharks hanging around, so bait must be in abundance there at the moment. This should then be the place to find mulloway at night.

In the estuary, the river downstream from Raymond Terrace is returning to its natural salty state, and even with the amount of rain we have had lately the fish are on the chew – try Tomago or inside Ash Island. Bream have been caught mainly on bait during the night with a few undersize mulloway in there for good measure – please let them go as they are the future of this fishery, they don’t taste that good anyway, which is why they are named soapy mulloway. Letting them go is better than trying to take them for a feed.

All-in-all the weather and westerly winds will determine the areas you can fish through this month, and the winds can be freezing if you’re in the brunt of it, the beaches and close offshore waters tend to be calm, so close reefs or drifting the back of beaches will be the best spots. Try trolling a safe distance out from the breaking waves and you should get some salmon and tailor. Happy fishing.

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