Floods change the spectrum
  |  First Published: April 2009

Flooding can change the whole spectrum on fishing for a month or more.

It can also do drastic things to our fisheries and pollution from floodwaters and changing salinity levels affect fish one way or another and can change the whole ball game in a radius of hundreds of kilometres.

This month we are at the mercy of wind and currents driving warm waters down the coast and because there has been so much flooding up north, a lot of fish could be travelling south looking for better quality water.

Back in 1999 we were in much the same scenario with dirty water pushing down the coast and the fishing changed dramatically. Around the Hunter Coast and off Forster there were northern species such as Spanish and spotted mackerel, large cobia, pearl perch, moses perch, huge schools of mackerel tuna and more marlin than anyone had seen around these areas for many years.

It would be very interesting if such a scenario occurred again this time around.

The local rain flushes the fish from rivers, bays, harbours and lakes and they take to the ocean. I am going to go out on a limb and predict this month to be great for fishing. The northerly wind and currents have pushed warm patches of water in close and the amount of baitfish has been unbelievable.

April is a time when currents can run at such a rate that it’s hard to keep a bait down in the strike zone.

At these times I do a lot of trolling and jigging. Larger soft plastics with heavy jig heads, along with chrome jigs, both work well, especially on wider reefs where the currents are at their strongest.

Drifting is easier than being at anchor because you cover more ground and are not prone to the current pulling your jigs sideways and lifting them out of the strike zone.

We have seen a few nice tailor on the beaches recently and it seems that the big greenbacks of February to early March are about a month late.

The beaches have been exceptional for school jewfish from 8kg to 12 kg and Stockton Bight has been the best place to be.

In amongst the tailor and jewfish, the bream are still coming through in schools. Most are just under a kilo but there are a lot of them.

Pipis are the bait to have or if you can catch worms, all the better – you may even get a few of the whiting that seem to be lurking around the holes at the top of the tide.

The salmon have slowed down a little with schools hanging more to the south but a change in the current or slower water movement could have them turning up en masse.


The estuaries will be a hard slog this month. A fresh is great in small amounts but after a lot of rain the only realistic thing to do is to try and seek out mud crabs, which follow the dirty water into areas they usually can’t get to.

Although this month is renowned for blue swimmer crabs, I think both species should be reliable enough to chase this April.

Flathead don’t mind a touch of a fresh and a lot of anglers have caught flatties miles upstream in dry times. The Hunter should be still be salty enough after some big tides this month for a drift or spin around Stockton to Hexham.

The northern channel has been the better choice lately, possibly due to it having more structure such as bridges and canals and creeks. Sandgate can fire if mullet and whitebait are being flushed down it, so an outgoing tide can pay trumps in this area at times.


This month an early morning offshore venture will provide the best opportunities. Warm water and schooling pelagics should be around, especially greenback tailor, mack tuna, mahi mahi and marlin, with some northern species adding variety.

In the afternoons, seek an estuary corner sheltered from the savage nor’-easters and cast some soft plastics or medium diving lures for flathead and bream. A drift around the first few kilometres from the headlands or river mouth with peeled prawns or bloodworms should also attach you to some whiting, flounder and bream.


I recently broke a tip and a middle guide off my rod. I had spare eyes and a tip in my tackle box and which I whipped out and fixed into place with small plastic ties.

I think everyone should carry a few small to large plastic ties in their tackle or tool box. They are great for clamping a light stick around the tip of the rod so you can see fish bite at night and to quick fix guides and tips.

You can even hold a reel on if something happens to the seat on the rod.

They are also a must for boaties for fixing fuel lines and there is no end to their uses.

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