Big numbers busting up
  |  First Published: July 2017

The amount of fish in this area lately has been astounding. Huge bream, tailor, luderick and flathead are in and it’s winter – you tell me what’s going on. I don’t think it’s the water temperature, but the masses of bait that are passing through the Hunter Region. There are a lot of predators following them, so hopefully the fishing will still be red-hot.

The wharfs and rocky outcrops in Newcastle Harbour have been pretty packed with anglers that are in the know. It only takes a few people to start talking fishing and the word spreads pretty fast, and the best spots are hard to get a line in due to the number of anglers taking the prime positions.

Bream have been flooding out of the harbour since March and I expect they will still be coming out. We have had little rain, so the fish are high up in the river system and it will take a while for them to reach the river mouth to keep moving on their spawning run.

A friend told me he was out luring for bream in a channel in dead darkness and he heard a few splashes. Thinking he heard salmon, he threw a lure in that direction and hooked up to two massive tailor that were chomping on bait. Now I don’t know if there was any reflection from shoreline lights or a bit of moon out, but they were feeding in the pitch-black water, he told me. That’s pretty unusual. I have been told there were also a lot of great tailor catches offshore on the close reefs.

I got out with a friend and hit my usual spots and they were covered in kingfish; the problem was they were all half an inch under size. They were great fun on light gear and floating pilchards in 15ft of water, but very frustrating. We couldn’t get one oversize out of about twenty. We were nearly pulling our hair out – there was so many under the boat and with a sounder that was black with the school of them we stuck around thinking surely something bigger would turn up. We weren’t lucky. We should have moved around the reefs more and looked for bigger fish.

Sand flathead are out just beyond the shore breaks and there have been some big ones taken. The best method is to drift with strips of mullet and make sure you are safely out far enough from where the waves are breaking. Flounder have been the by-catch over the sand, along with the stray whiting that might be gone by now, but you never know.

Further offshore juvenile snapper are patchy, but with a little work on a berley trail you should be able to coax them in close enough to hook them. They have been very scarce on the inner reefs over the past month and are preferring to stay out in deep water over reefs. Use a berley bomb to get the berley down to where they are. Morwong, mostly blue, have been schooling with them in the deep water with nannygai and teraglin. I haven’t heard many reports of gamefish lately, but the water is cooling so they’re probably up north bathing in the sunny warmer areas.

For those who chase luderick, there have been a lot taken along both breakwalls and they have been of good size as well. I go cross-eyed watching that float for ages, but lately it hasn’t taken long for it to be pulled under. They’re nice, clean fish as they are moving in from offshore and entering the river. The fish that have been in the river for a while haven’t been tasting that good lately, so fish up close to the harbour mouth. Try Nobbys Wall or Stockton; both have been fishing well for them.

This month I would be carrying chrome lures for the tailor, fresh prawns or strips of mullet for the bream, live baits for sharks and mulloway off the walls (a few have been there), and take some luderick gear as they are in mass proportions. I’m guessing as it cools down there will be even more luderick.

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