We have been promised a new artificial reef off Newcastle and it’s one mighty big structure, standing an amazing 11m tall.
DPI Fisheries enhancement officer Heath Folpp and a team of scientists are scanning the seabed within three nautical miles of shore to find the best placement for the large structure. At that distance a lot of smaller trailerboat owners will have access to it.
Another two have been earmarked for Sydney and Wollongong. With shipping traffic being a major concern, I think it might be laid north of the Hunter River mouth but it’s still in initial stages of being constructed and it will probably be a while until we are fishing over it. I’ll keep you posted.
The fishing has been really great. Warmer water has produced the first signs of pelagics out wide, whiting are moving into the estuaries and the flathead are starting to fire in the shallows.
The beaches are working well and the jewfish are around in good numbers, especially along the southern sections of Stockton Bight.
There have been a few whispers that the hole behind the soccer field at Stockton has been fishing very well from there to the pipes about a kilometre up the beach. Over the years I have seen some big jewfish and serious flathead landed there.
This hole seems to be entirely natural hole, shallowing out in times of good weather but as soon as a storm hits from the south, it deepens and fishes at its best again.
It truly is a remarkable spot, accessed by a track as you come onto the first soccer oval in Stockton. The track winds around the back of the fields and lands you right on the beach.
In the Hunter River the bream numbers are certainly picking up and talking to a few of the boys on the water and at the Carrington Boat ramp (which is having a great makeover), the hot gossip is the number of bream taking soft plastics at night in the brightly lit areas.
My son and I got three nice keepers around the trawler wharf in the Basin and back at the ramp we found the crew of one boat had bagged out and even let some big ones go. Be warned: when doing this you can also hook unstoppable jewfish so a good trace is a key.
Being such a busy port, Newcastle’s foreshores are well lit and often you can arrive in an area where smelt, whitebait and small prawns are spooked. If you see this, use small metals because they can be fished at any speed and bream feeding on the small silver baitfish grab them with gusto – it isn’t all about soft plastics.
The treble on these lures raises the percentage of hook-ups. Toothy critters like tailor are often around illuminated water and feeding on sheltering fish and tailor and soft plastics just don’t mix. Experiment to see what is around and try all depths if baitfish are being herded into balls.
Live-baiters have been very busy on Stockton wall. It seems a lot of anglers end up at Horseshoe Beach and on the wall at Stockton, we see them as we pass the walls to fish the Pilot Station Hole, one of the most favoured spots for jewfish in the entire Hunter.
On a good night 15 to 20 boats can line all the way along the huge 18m drop-off that exists to keep enough depth under the coal ships.
A word of warning if you’re in a small boat: Tug boats and pilot vessels regularly run back and forth attending to ships and as they return they come in pretty quickly and can create huge waves. We have been close to being swamped as the stern of our boat faced the oncoming wakes.
We were lucky but a tiny tinny nearby copped it and the crew were cursing and bailing like crazy, so make sure if you fish so close to the shipping channel to let out a lot of anchor rope so your boat can lift on the waves. This is where your chain length is so important.Reads: 538