The baits are bringing them in
  |  First Published: December 2016

The past six weeks have been all about the current screaming down the coast keeping the boats away from the outer grounds and in close to the coastal fringe. Tailor are the talk of the town with catches on the beaches, estuaries and rivers. With a little rain, tailor can move up to brackish water and be caught in drains and all sorts of unusual places around the Hunter. The best shot is off the break walls and beach rocky platforms.

A pilchard under a float is all you need – you can troll for them or catch them on shallow and deep reefs. Tailor are so versatile, if they’re around in numbers, they’ll make themselves known.

Look for diving birds in the estuaries and lakes, or a whole lot of fishers lined up with floats out.

The Gutters along Stockton Beach hold big greenbacks at this time of year. A weekday is the best time to fish, in the morning or late afternoon. The only downfall is the pilchards you buy – some are like mush when they thaw out. A visit to a reputable fishing store will be better to get hold of some brined pilchards. These hold to the hooks better and stay on through the cast. Some service stations don’t rotate the bait, so the oldest pilchards are many moons old and just fly off the hooks. Be careful.

Whiting are showing up around the Hunter region, but not in great numbers. As this month goes along, they should thicken and prowl along the beaches for worms and pipis. Remember the rules regarding pipis. You can’t take them home or collect them for eating – they have to be used on the spot. Anglers use poppers and small Rapala red lures and do well in the estuaries chasing trumpeter whiting. Small blades work well too.

I like any lure with a red colour through it. The fish love red, as it looks like a bloodworm. The sand flats in the Hunter River around Kooragang Island are a great place to throw lures around in 10-15ft. Use good gear, as flathead lay on these flats and can shred through thin traces easily. The edge of the mud just above Stockton Bridge is another spot that holds whiting, bream and flathead.

Outside has been very flat with some currents that have been fairly strong. They should have slowed a little, so you can get into the action. Bonito have been everywhere – a great bait source and fun to catch. They’re mixed in with big greenback tailor, a few stripped tuna and small mac tuna. Out wider on the reefs, teraglin, school mulloway and just legal kingfish have been showing in the afternoon. The crystal clear water has been hard to fish, but try to troll around areas of reef with deep divers. Happy Fishing.


It’s great to see kids get in on the action, and with the amount of tailor around at the moment they shouldn’t have to much trouble hooking one up, from now through to February they haunt this area of coast.


Slimy mackerel make great bait.


If you can, get out and fish the earliest times just before sunrise, or in late afternoon.

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