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  |  First Published: February 2003

If you get an invitation to fish offshore this month you would have to be mad to say no.

I have been raving over the past three months of the amount of great fish taken in our estuaries but it took only a few days of solid rain and some big nor’-easters and that blue water was punching in close to shore. So all you big boat fishos who go wide should be in for some awesome fishing this month. And land-based game fishos, hang on to your hats, it’s starting to happen.

Reports of sharks are coming in with tigers spotted out wide and lure-munching hammerheads. One nabbed a Storm lure trolled around the bait ground off south Stockton Beach by Trevor Woods of Mayfield. It goes to show that once the slimy mackerel show up, the predators always follow. The Storm lure was being towed for the large tailor that have been seen of an afternoon around Stockton and Nobbys breakwalls.

Greenbacks have shown up in schools of much smaller fish. A few anglers have momentarily hooked these on Top Catch bait jigs and while they might be a great way to collect bait, when the big fish move in, more substantial gear is needed.

I have memories of a shark mackerel around 10kg, way out of its typical northern waters, which hammered a bait jig and cleaned me up.

Adam Roche from Stockton was devastated to be unable to hook any of the large greenbacks that slid through his berley trail off Big Ben Reef, out in front of Nobbys Head. They cleaned him up on his bait jig and when dropped over ganged pilchard they wouldn’t play ball. Adam said these were solid greenback tailor around 2kg or 3kg.

Tailor aside, the offshore month is here and the fishing is usually at its best. The waters through the week are not really busy and reefs that become boat cities through the weekend can really fire mid-week, Sharks, cobia, snapper, kingfish, stripped tuna, jewfish, large bonito, tailor, salmon – whatever – this is the month to fish live bait offshore as much as you possibly can.


In the Hunter River there have been whispers of some great bream up around Mosquito Creek and the junction of the rivers at Kooragang Island, This is a good spot by boat and off the point itself. In a boat, sound the northern channel out from the buoy and fish the massive drop-over. Float prawns or squid tentacles on baitrunner-style reels but wait for a solid run before locking down – the bream can play touch and go here at times.

Whiting and some great flounder have been taken on drifts on the incoming tides on the southern side of the point so if nothing else is happening, this may be worthwhile. Kids love this sort of fishing and you never know in the Hunter River when you will connect with a good flathead fishing this way.

The boys from Freddy’s Fishing World have been taking some quality bream around the pylons at Honeysuckle (the lee wharves] throwing small rubber shads in silver and green. Another trick is to toss lures into the evening lights off the Stockton Ferry wharf or the lights off the floating dock area. A few school jew have been taken this way, along with some tailor and bream. Try a 25mm or 50mm rubber lure.

What has happened to the crabs? Around Christmas time every year I know a lot of folks who love to add these to the menu but maybe the drought changed things this year. The blue swimmers in the Hunter were a non-event. The mud crabs were around but it took a lot of effort to find these also. Maybe a late run will happen but a lot of people were disappointed in the crab numbers – but we have up to late March, so here’s hoping.


No 1,

Drifting prawns or squid strips for whiting can surprise with other species. A couple of kilos of solid flathead from the Hunter River around Kooragang Island.

No 2,

Offshore fishing is starting to fire and wouldn’t a trophy of something like this look great as a capture on your wall, Mark Walmsley adds the final details to a fine striped marlin.

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