A lot of anglers will remember 2006 as a year of very limited seasonal change on the Hunter Coast.
Winter was nearly non-existent with balmy days and great fishing weather that stayed with us Valley region up late into August. As Spring hit, the warm currents headed north and we found a lot of cool-weather species stayed around and made for miserable fishing. Leatherjackets plagued offshore reefs and the squire and snapper took a little while to get into the rhythm of things.
Well, all that’s changed and the water is again heading south and getting warmer, bringing numerous baitfish. They attracted kingfish, bonito, striped tuna, large whiting and a never-ending stream of flathead that spooked the small anchovies, whitebait, herring and slimy mackerel.
As I write the afternoon storms are building up and the barometer has been see-sawing, the typical formation of good fishing. So the lead-up to Christmas should fish really well.
Whiting have been the No 1 target, especially on the beaches, and everywhere I wander there have been people pumping yabbies or pulling worms for whiting bait, Horseshoe Beach and the sand flats above Stockton bridge have their fair share of whiting including some really big fish.
I haven’t stopped mentioning flathead nearly all year and they are biting in the same places, with catches from drifting boats or from the shore over sandy bottoms. Lure fishing this month is usually red-hot.
I learnt from a really good lure craftsman to try red lures for flathead around Christmas and whiting do tend to jump on as well. Small red soft plastics work very well, as do the hard lures which a lot of younger anglers over recent years have tended to walk away from, opting for soft plastics alone.
Both types of lures can have their moments and in some cases a swimming, wobbling hard lure can pick up fish of all sizes and descriptions.
On my fishing journeys I sometimes ask the younger generation why they choose only soft plastics. Most haven’t even tried hardbodies and these anglers’ answers usually relate to the cost and the longer distance they can cast hard soft lures. Sometimes I realise what they mean and at other times I think with the amount of great, light braid and inexpensive, quality graphite rods we have available that the distance element is pretty equal for both.
December should have plenty on offer: sand whiting, flathead, jewfish from the beaches, bream, trumpeter whiting and squire from the estuaries. Over the outside reefs there should be snapper, teraglin and larger jewfish as well as pelagics, not to mention the game fish we chase a bit further out. Have a safe and merry Christmas.
Jason Griffith with a typical Hunter Coast flathead. Fish of these dimensions should be easy to catch as they go into their breeding cycle around Christmas.Reads: 549