Making the most of westerlies
  |  First Published: August 2003

August is when the worst of the westerlies hit our coastline. Most estuaries and river mouths are blown to pieces but don’t despair: The winds can also help.

These savage offshore winds allows smaller craft the opportunity to troll safely close inshore around the washes for a number of species.

The most abundant fish of late have been tailor, which really have been firing along this part of the coast. They’re not huge fish but some very large schools have been passing through and I am sure they will hang in there until September.

Tailor are vicious, fish swiping anything that passes them by. They love shiny chrome lures and shallow- to medium-running hard-bodied minnows. The soft plastics fad followers will have to put them away for tailor. Although they’re cheap, these lures get torn to shreds when tailor are around.

Mackerel tuna have made a comeback in the past few years and have been travelling through Stockton Bight, feeding along with the huge schools of salmon. Both are great sport on light tackle and fly and deserve more respect from anglers.

Kids can cut their teeth on catching mack tuna or salmon and they aren’t that hard to find – check out the wheeling, diving birds and you’ll find the fish. These fish also let the little tackers work out what the drag on a reel is for. A kid who gets to work on a screaming reel peeling line and pulls up a 4kg to 5kg fish usually wears a huge smile for the rest of the day. We forget that they don’t care what sort of fish it is, it only has to be pretty big and the kids will be hooked for life.

Bream haven’t been around much lately and no reports of good catches have come my way. I think they might be travelling to the warmer, sunnier climes. The yellowfin bream travel in vast schools to spawn, but I am going to go out on a limb by saying that the Hunter and a few local estuaries hold populations of black bream.

These southern cousins of the yellowfin bream seem to be around a little more each Winter. These fish are famous down south throughout the Lakes Entrance and Gippsland Lakes region in Victoria and we seem to get a few each year that call our ‘warm’ water home for a while. Black bream also love lures. Best spots are around oyster racks or upper river snags.

August is a funny month for fishing and anything can happen. Pockets of warm water can hold up along the coast and within a river or estuary. A few strange things have turned up in reports lately.

Maori cod are a fish more known in Southern Queensland waters but they have been taken along the Hunter coast of late. A number of reports have been flowing in, mostly from anglers who couldn’t identify the fish. Some thought they were mangrove jacks, others thought they were the protected estuary cod. Fishing never stops throwing surprises at you.

While this is one of those months when anything can happen, beware of bar or river crossings. With big westerlies punching straight at you and an incoming tide, dangerous, steep walls of water and strong wind can mean disaster to small boats.


No 1,

Daryl Matthews got a shock when he fished some local reefs and found Maori cod at home. These tasty fish are usually found in warmer water in southern Queensland.

No 2,

While bream haven’t been around as much as they should be, this one took a fresh crab bait just off an old wharf. They love structure to hide in and hunt around.

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