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Brave the chill, get the thrill
  |  First Published: August 2003



A nagging south-westerly is knocking at my door as I pen this article. Certainly this time of year sorts the men out from the boys with those willing to brave the chill achieving the thrill.

Rock anglers love this time of year with the so-called bread-and-butter species on the chew. Plenty of tailor are cruising the suds with healthy numbers of choppers attacking baits, chrome slices and poppers. Tailor are a great light-tackle proposition, fighting cleanly around the rocks but putting in a battle all the way to the creel.

Bream are also still available in good numbers with all local headlands harbouring numbers. This time of year sees larger travelling bream fill our ocean gutters on their annual pilgrimage along the coast. Bream are always suckers for fresh strip baits, scoffing them down quickly.

Besides being great fighters, bream are good tucker, those anglers willing to burn the midnight oil reap the rewards with full creels at this time of year, while the faint-hearted amongst us remain snuggled around the heater whingeing about the nippy conditions.

Drummer remain somewhat quiet with only an odd pig getting taken. I would expect this to change over the ensuing weeks with the action improving as the water cools. The temperature has remained usually high for this time of year for whatever reason.

Beaches are still providing good action with bream and tailor coming from most gutters. On dusk school jew are getting into the act. With a few days to a full moon anglers should be getting off their backsides and into some hot action. Armed with some fresh worms, preferred jew fodder, they should be working the deeper gutters on a rising tide just on dark for best results.

Estuary

The blackfish have finally started to co-operate with some fine bronzies being landed. Catches have been patchy but numbers have been enough to feed the multitudes. Both walls have been coughing up fish as well as a sprinkling from Limeburners Creek. With plenty of cool weeks still in front of us, I would expect there will still be a steady improvement with blackfish schools moving in from the ocean ledges.

Some great bream are certainly about, with good fish getting taken especially after dark. Both walls are producing the goods with good travellers (the ones that have avoided the beach haulers’ nets) stretching anglers’ tackle.

Oyster lease areas up the Hastings River are harbouring some great fish. Fishing lease areas can be a frustrating affair with fish redlining tackle and gaining their freedom on the oyster clad poles and racks. When fishing these areas, remember not to damage anything because lease owners take a dim view on anglers meddling with their livelihood and who can blame them. A commonsense approach needs to be taken when anchoring and fishing to keep all parties happy.

There has been a steady push by local professional fishermen for a partial opening of the Hastings to the commercial sector. After Eddie Obeid shut the door on many areas during his reign as Fisheries Minister, it would seem a backward step for our system to be reopened to the pros.

Professionals are arguing they wish only to trap eels and crabs and net prawns and mullet. The trouble is nets are indiscriminate, producing a by-catch of small fish and other species besides mullet, such as blackfish and bream. Their chances of regaining entry are not there with the Labour Party holding a healthy majority after the last election. Petitions have been set up at local tackle shops for all anglers to sign to prevent this reopening. Showing strength in numbers always makes the pollies sit up and take notice.

Offshore

The past few weeks have seen boaties cop it, with large seas and winds hampering offshore activities. When some good days have arrived they have usually been mid-week (it’s always the way, stuck at work with great conditions at sea!). For those lucky ones some good action has been on offer. Shallow-water reds are definitely the go with close reefs coughing up some solid fish. Early mornings and late arvos are the go with fish more co-operative at these times.

Local angler Paul Hayes had quite a surprise while fishing close in off Lake Cathie recently. He hooked and boated a black marlin around 70kg. As usual, an angler should expect the unexpected at all times. Unusually high water temps for this time of year could explain the blacks showing but who knows, it's just one of those freakish captures. Paul’s marlin looked to have its bill broken off from some previous tussle with a boat, an angler or some denizen of the deep – another mystery.

Wide reefs have been yielding pearlies, reds, mowies and all the usual culprits. Winter is a great time for bottom fishermen with plenty of good fish on the chew.

Around the close in bommies tailor and bream are still available along with some good groper and drummer, so if the wide spots don't fire or are unfishable because of the weather, in close could see you home with a feed.

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