Waiting for the mullet
  |  First Published: April 2003

With the first hint of westerly breeze, the mullet will start running.

This season has seen the country in the clutches of drought, which means, talking to some of the old salts, that it should be a big run this year. That’s if there are any mullet left to run.

It seems that the days of old where a mullet run would see weeks and weeks of a constant stream of mullet migrating north have gone. Mullet school together and ‘run’ to sea to spawn. No wonder, then, that the species has been decimated by irresponsible harvesting at the height of their spawn run. Hopefully with increasingly tighter restrictions on netting, the mullet will have a chance to regain their numbers.

It is important that we look after stocks of baitfish such as mullet, slimy mackerel, garfish and yellowtail because of their importance in the food chain. With decreased populations of these baitfish, how can there be expectations of constant numbers of higher-order predators such as mulloway, tuna, kingfish, cobia and marlin in our waters?

Well, that’s my soap box for the month so I’ll get into what’s happening. The gamefish season is rapidly approaching its climax with species such as cobia, northern bluefin tuna, kingfish and marlin all prevalent. Anglers everywhere will be chucking lures, trolling skirts and soaking livies to tempt these blue-water speedsters.

Beach bonanza

On the beaches, whiting have been going mad with great catches recorded on every major beach from Stockton to Hawks Nest. Jewfish to 20kg have been taken off Stockton, One Mile, Samurai and Box Beach. This time of year, salmon can really become a menace for beach anglers as they have particular taste for beach worms, the primary bait for the beach angler.

Bream should be starting very soon as the mornings and afternoons bring in that cool air. They should be firing around just about every oyster rack and rock wall inside the port.

When I’m on the water inside Port Stephens I often see boat anchored, fishing with light gear, in the middle of channels and generally in deep areas. They obviously aren’t fishing for jewfish and usually aren’t catching much..

Most fish in Port Stephens are taken in less than two metres of water. I don’t know exactly why this is, it might be because the food lives in the shallower water. The only fish (apart from jewfish) that are taken in deeper water are whiting and they like a moving bait which comes from letting your boat drift.

So if you are one of these anglers who regularly fishes the deep holes and you haven’t been catch much, try fishing in close to the bank and structure. Look for places where food is likely to wash along in the current or places where fish can take a break out of the current, say, in the lee of a point or the edges of an eddy.

An old bloke who has recently retired was lost for words when he went for a relaxing fish in the middle of the day a few weeks ago along the Anchorage breakwall. He sat down with his gear next to an elderly gentleman who proceeded to pull three huge flathead out from under the retiree’s line. The retiree turned to the elderly gentleman with the flathead and said, “Bloody hell, does this happen every day?”. The elderly gentleman looked at him and murmured, “You’ve just retired, right – figures.”

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