Mornings fish better
  |  First Published: February 2005

February is a month when the nor’-easters hit after lunch and fishing from small boats just isn’t comfortable.

Large offshore vessels can handle most situations but be aware that once the humidity starts to rise in the early afternoon that calm, sticky heat will usually be followed by at times very fierce storms. The first sign is the wind will swing and come in from down south.

Fishing in the heat of the day usually isn’t for everyone, especially if you’re in a boat without a canopy, but most of us know that the calm few hours before an afternoon storm can really produce some spectacular fishing.

Bass seem to come to the party in the freshwater but bream will also feed nearer to the surface and very actively.

The Hunter River has many drains along its length, a lot from industry that has ceased to exist. Insects must have a good sense of weather because in the humidity before a storm they hatch and leave the drains, seemingly already knowing water will flood through their homes.

Mullet, bream, long tom and jewfish all take advantage of this and the river comes alive with surface hits. Fishing with small shallow divers and surface poppers at times can be red-hot.

But, as we all must remember, this is a dangerous time to fish. Lightning can be a real problem well before a storm hits and wind and hail can injure or kill. So be careful of squalls and if it’s getting to radical, head home early.

February mornings are the better option to sneak outside and fish the close reefs. Along with most fishos here, I generally head south and if it turns nasty from the south it is better to ride home on it. Most boats are back around lunchtime before the nor’-easter gets too strong and, let’s face it, after five hours on the reefs if you haven’t had some fun it may be time to give up anyway.

The reefs directly off Merewether, Bar Beach through to Redhead, hold numerous fish in Summer. My diary says it’s a great time for snapper, morwong, large bream, rat kings and the odd jewfish. Float off your mark and sand flathead, whiting and flounder come into play.

The larger reefs in front of Bar Beach are preferred by a lot of Newcastle anglers. This area is renowned for trag at night, along with very large bream at times. The down side of fishing Newcastle reefs is that sometimes they can be covered in sweep – also known as Newcastle bream for the obvious reason. Those sweep and plague numbers of sergeant baker can make things hard but they’re a chance you take every time you fish these reefs. But when the fishing’s good, it’s very good.

A report through Freddy’s Fishing World doors indicated not long back a few small cobia had been taken on Stockton Beach, so the reefs north of Newcastle might come alive as well.

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