Hard to predict
  |  First Published: May 2003

This month has been very hard to write about: The seasons are changing and predicting what might happen from season to season and year to year is becoming harder.

Maybe its got something to do with global warming or the el Nino-la Nina effect or, perhaps, over fishing. Whatever the reason, fishing around Port Stephens is definitely becoming harder as the years progress.

Before penning this article I phoned local guru Brent Hancock, who answered his mobile phone one kilometre south east of Broughton Island. We talked about fishing in general and how neither of us had been in such a long time and before he hung up he said, “I think it’s because the fishing has just been so weird.”

I thought about that … weird. If you talk to the old-timers around the port, or anywhere for that matter, they’ll tell you that certain species of fish come at certain times of the year. But, in recent years, seasons have been lasting longer for some species and becoming shorter in others.

Last year we had a fantastic run of northern bluefin tuna that lasted for nearly three months but it seems this year it could be a short run. These seasonal changes are making it harder to catch fish but, as they are harder to catch, it will make us all better anglers in the pursuit.

Bream active

At this time of year bream should be in spawning mode and eager to attack lures and bait alike. Keen anglers will know that casting soft plastics for bream has become a really big thing of late with quality bream being taken right around our coastline. The plastics seem to work in vastly different structure and terrain. From mangrove-lined creeks to rock walls and sand flats, it seems that if there’s a bream there, it will eat one of these squishy creations.

I’ve had some reports of quality fish other than bream being caught on a variety of plastics. Brent Hancock nailed some good squire to 1.2kg in the washes off Fingal Bay while fellow plastic fanatic Scott Rodgers cleaned up on school jew to 8kg in the Karuah River.

Mackerel tuna and frigate mackerel should be in good numbers, crashing through bait schools from Soldiers Point seawards. These little speedsters can be caught with small metal spinners like Raiders, on fly or on those small soft plastics.

The reefs outside have been very patchy so far this year but good numbers of jew and trag should be showing up soon, if they’re not already there. The odd snapper can still be caught, with the lager specimens falling to fresh bait such as slabbed tuna or live slimy mackerel.

With the seasons being so different, it pays to be a very versatile angler and to take things as they come. So try new things and new spots and you’ll stand more chance of being rewarded..

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