Huge schools of tailor and salmon from the beaches have shocked even seasoned anglers, while the rockhoppers are out after good numbers of drummer and groper, so it’s shaping up to be a good cold season.
Winter around here is about settling at a washy gutter or a steep, cunjevoi-lined ledge, holding a rod rigged with an Alvey or large threadline spooled with 10kg to 15kg line, a bag of bread, some abalone gut, cunjevoi, crabs and a few royal red prawns. Then you’re in for the fight of your life with drummer and groper.
As soon as you get out of bed you can decide. If it’s windy and wild, drummer will be around they love a lumpy sea with some wave and wash action. Groper, on the other hand, like calm bays where they rummage through kelp and rocky areas looking for crabs, starfish and other small sea creatures. A wire coat hanger is all that’s needed to pry crabs from their rocky homes; for both of these fish, bait found around where you fish is the best.
Boaties with a good reliable motor and can sit out behind the washes and cast in close to the shore for drummer. It’s actually a better option than on the rocks because you’re pulling the fish away from their lairs right under the rockhoppers’ feet. For groper, 24kg to 45kg hand lines can be drifted around drop-offs close to the rock faces on calm days. Remember, these tanks pull hard and with any relaxation you will usually lose them.
If it’s a calm day leatherjackets will be around kelp beds as well. They’re not overly sought-after fish but their eating quality makes them a great target if the day is going slowly.
Squid also love to sit in these areas and there aren’t many people I know who don’t love a fresh feed of calamari. So it’s not all about the glamour fish in July and August.
Morwong and school garfish usually show off Swansea in Winter and with them will come kingfish and the hordes of salmon that love to feast on them.
The evenings fish well on the beaches for tailor, bream and salmon although salmon will show all day on occasions. If this happens and they’re thick, a great boredom-breaker is to cast lures. Salmon fight hard and feeling the strike and having one jump through the waves is great fun, no matter what you think of these fish.
From Swansea to Newcastle there are many reefs and close plateaus to fish around for all the above species as well as snapper. The Merewether and Redhead reefs would be the best for offshore runs for the reds and the reefs around Moon Island at Swansea are worth a look for leatherjackets, trevally and morwong. A lot of blue morwong are caught in this area in Winter, as are large squid, especially in the channel mouth.
The Hunter River has been fishing OK, mostly for bream and flounder. Jewfish haven’t been great but who knows when they can turn up around the half to full moon in the deeper parts of the river.
Tailor are showing down to Stockton bridge late in the afternoons. There are a lot of choppers but a whisper of bigger fish has got through. The better option for the greenbacks is off the beach.
In Lake Macquarie flathead are still showing up in captures and schools of tailor to 2kg are hunting in packs off the headlands and around Pulbah Island. Chrome lures have taken most of the fish but the school sounds very quickly when a few boats are around.
In the upper Hunter, Black Creek, which runs through the vineyards from Cessnock to the back of Branxton, has been declared as very polluted and no fish should be eaten from this once great bass water.
It has also come to light that levels of contaminants in Dora Creek in Lake Macquarie have also affected a lot of its length and more studies are being done to see if it will be safe to eat fish from there. The study was more on the upper reaches so be aware once you’re above the freeway.Reads: 810