Any rain will help
  |  First Published: September 2006

As I sit here the rain is hammering Newcastle with a vengeance, not that I am complaining.

We all know we need it and a lot of rain sometimes does an estuary good, driving the fish from the upper reaches back into the mainstream of the Harbour, where they feed a little more freely as they travel following the baitfish.

Around Fullerton Cove, especially around the entrance where the oyster leases are, the number of boats has been testament to just how many bream have been in this area. A lot of anglers have been losing a lot of fish and gear but it’s still worth the effort for fish over a kilo. Much bigger fish have been tackle busters as they head through the oyster racks.

I am astonished that I can still mention flathead in the middle of Winter, but one look at the August mag was enough to convince me it isn’t just the Hunter area which has produced plenty. By late June they usually disappear from the estuaries and return around late September but this year they are just everywhere.

On each outing we have had at least one flathead in the bag, or at least a lure was intended for bream followed by one, not that anyone’s complaining. I hope the rain drives them further into the Harbour.

A few keen locals have been surprised to come across a number of good blue swimmer crabs in the Southern Channel of the Hunter River, it just goes to show that by being out there you really never know what is going to unfold in a days fishing. These guys handlined a few aboard and the crabs were full, not Winter-conditioned models.

The jewfish really haven’t played the game in the past few months, with scant reports from any of my contacts. Maybe this month, after a bit more rain, they might turn up again. A number of lure-tossers are using the Harbour breakwalls to cast into deeper water with huge plastic lures the size of a kilo mullet sunk and slowly twitched back. I haven’t seen any fish landed but it’s going to be only a matter of time.


Every time I tow the boat down the potholed Carrington boat ramp, I curse at the way we are treated in Newcastle. It’s our only ramp on this side of the river and is used by hundreds of anglers. It’s finally going to be fixed.

Hopefully a lot of thought will be put into it and the amount of ramp in the water will be lengthened to accommodate some of the larger boats that are launched here.

This is a month when the dreaded westerlies can hang around for weeks but don’t despair. At times when it’s at its roughest the estuary can fish very well. Bream respond to bait a little more easy when the water is choppy but be aware that the westerly does whip up Newcastle Harbour and at times it can become dangerous.

The southern channel can give shelter, as can the water around Hexham. Both areas fish well for flathead on the drift with bait or lures cast to the shore.

Offshore, leatherjackets are covering all the reefs along with trevally but the current has been pretty wild. It should calm down before long and the gravel and close reefs are at their best in early Spring for squire and big snapper,

I have designated a few days this month to sit over a gravel patch not far off Newcastle to chase snapper with unweighted baits.

No 1,

Flathead haven’t left the Hunter estuary this year, with reasonable catches still reported through Winter. Chris Jelfs caught this fish on a herring.

No 2,

Josh Padmos with a typical snapper from offshore. They should be willing to snatch a bait through September.

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