Best months of the year
  |  First Published: February 2017

It’s truly been a sensational two months for our region, and a great start to the year. Marlin, kingfish, tuna of all descriptions, bream, whiting, flathead and mulloway have all been the drawcard around here, and with such warm weather and currents there have been some tropical species turning up as well – so here’s hoping it stays that way this month.

By now, land based game fishers should have woken up early to dust off their gear and get the prime spots on the deep local ledges, hoping for bluefin tuna, kingfish and mulloway to take their live baits – but I have a real feeling they will get a lot of sharks, as the numbers in close over the last six months has been mind blowing. The best ledges within a couple of hours drive from the centre of Newcastle to try your luck are as follows: Charlotte Headland in Botti Botti National Park, the Goat Track and Treachery Head at Seal Rocks, Tomaree Head at Port Stephens (which is probably renowned as the best), Swansea Flat Rock and Snapper Point, along with Wybung Head all around the Swansea area. Over the years, these all have given up some great fish to lucky anglers who have taken the time and effort to lug in a back pack and heavy gear to take on the big fish off the stone. One look at the ANSA record books and you will see that all these places are worth a visit at least once in your lifetime. It’s not an easy game, but when that dream fish does come along, all the trekking and hard times wash away from your mind and you’ll remember the catch for the rest of your life.

The beaches have been fishing really well, which is probably due to a mixture of everyone with a four wheel drive out there, as the numbers of anglers that seek fish off the beach is near tripled at this time of year. The sea gods have been good to us this year, pushing warm water further down the coast, and very close to the shore along the Hunter region, bringing big fat bream, whiting, mulloway, flathead, tailor and even a few dart showing up along the beaches. I haven’t seen swallow tail dart in beach catches around here for probably 15 years or so, which shows just how warm that water really is. Make sure you have a current and correct beach pass for the area you are fishing, as the rangers have been circling like a cat around a mouse, and really going hard on the people not doing the right thing.

In the estuaries the fishing has also been crazy, and this month it should be even crazier! The bream are moving down to start feeding for next month, which is when the really big single 2kg model female bream leave and scoot up the coast, followed by the schools of smaller fish in April – so have a plan in place and you might crack the bream of a lifetime. The flathead have been around, with both lures and bait working on them. They are up high in the system and holding in areas of where small creeks hit the Hunter River proper. Whiting are over the sand banks closer to the mouth, and finally some nice mulloway have been taken from the Stockton breakwall by the diehard all-nighters that are as crazy a two bob watch. They cart out so much gear on trolleys and bikes, you’d think they have left home for a week to fish, but they have been getting fish over the magic 20kg mark on squid, yellowtail and slimy mackerel. They all have their different methods, but all of them have told me the last two hours of the rising tide until the first two hours of the run-out have been the best, and they haven’t worried about the moon phases, just the tide itself. With fishos catching in such good numbers, Stockton Bridge, the mouth of Fullerton Cove and the Pilot Station ledges should be working just as well for those live baiting out of boats.

Offshore is usually great this month. Mahimahi, marlin, tuna, wahoo, cobia, and big kingfish are all in the mix. This month is awesome for trolling with either live baits or medium sized skirts – I love black and silver with hints of blue through them. I think the black and silver models look a touch like mullet and the blue and silver look a little like small bonito, which are also around in great numbers closer in. I would be surprised if the tournaments haven’t shown up some new records this year, with the water cobalt blue and warm, it should fire-up for those who like to get out wide and chase the gamefish.

So here it is, one of the two best months to be out on the water or fishing off the rock walls in the estuaries, February and March are renowned as great fishing around here, so stop reading now and go get amongst ‘em!

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