Squire, kings on close reefs
  |  First Published: December 2005

The word around this part of the coast is about the number of schooling squire and snapper that are about since the Spring rains and the current that is pushing south at a great rate of knots.

The fishing has certainly improved for squire, bream, flathead and the odd kingfish and they haven’t let up so I predict a good season for all.

Remember, the latest catalogues from all the tackle shops will soon be out so finding some new gear for the year ahead will be easy. I’m sure every fisho gets a big smile happening on Christmas morning when they open something to do with their favourite pastime.

Squire are dominating the scene and over the past two months many anglers have bagged out on fish mostly from a kilo to 2kg. Fresh mullet and squid are by far the most-used bait over the reefs but the best, if you can locate them, is garfish.

A quarter of a garfish or a small fillet on a 2/0 or 3/0 suicide hook is one of the best baits for snapper and the kingfish that follow these garfish schools will relish a gar, too.

John Neily from Carrington recently fished North Reef with some great results after an early shopping spree at Freddy’s Fishing World had him set up with a few poppers and a pack of garfish.

On arrival, John thought salmon were crunching sprats and whitebait on the surface near the buoy but as he got closer he saw they were kingfish around 6kg. He cast a small popper into the mayhem but he was trashed so fast on his little ABU baitcaster that he reckoned the spool was nearly smoking.

After trying a few more times and losing another lure, he didn’t know what to do. He had no big gear on the boat apart from a 6” Alvey spooled with 15kg mono. Using his head, john trolled a popper close around the buoy and managed to lose a few more lures before finally boating a 9kg king. He also got a bag of squire and leatherjackets from the bottom.

The Redhead reefs have filled with squire also, along with the occasional school of travelling fat bream, and Merewether is much the same.

The best action has been from late afternoon until 10pm by floating prawns and garfish fillets on the shallower grounds. Paternosters with larger hooks on the wider marks will give the best results as the current is strong out wider.


I was asked the other day why I had such a love for North Reef and why I always seem to fish and write about that area.

The answer is simple: This reef is a vast ground with many contours. It’s simple to find and has a good reference point for when you find a spot. No matter where you are on the reef, the huge buoy makes it easy to find spots next time.

The buoy also acts as a fish attractor. There are squid and yakkas or slimy mackerel on tap around 80% of the time.

North Reef holds a great variety of fish species and isn’t too far from the Hunter River mouth if weather sours quickly.

The reef has been good to me over the years and rarely will I drive away empty-handed, even if it’s only squid or flathead from the edges.

The number of small-boat anglers who frequent this area makes up a great network of information on what’s around at any time. I expect many close reefs have this hold on anglers on any part of the coast for the same reasons.

Find a good ground, find good people fishing it and the information and the ways to fish it become a lot more valuable.

The Hunter River is holding a great number of flathead as I write and lure fishing around the sand flats west of the bridge is hotting up.

I have also spied a lot of anglers setting witches’ hats so maybe some blue swimmers are about. Bream and jewfish have been quiet but as it gets closer to Christmas they should improve.

Chunky bream such as this have been taken around Newcastle over the past month. Pipis, mullet strips and worms all have taken their share of the bream from the beach and the Hunter River.  

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