Beaches are the place to be
  |  First Published: June 2008

Winter has hit with a real bite this year on the Hunter Coast. Large amounts of rain and cool conditions have taken its toll on the fishing, forcing some die-hard anglers to retreat indoors. A beach campout with a warm fire and some quality made sleeping gear would be a good alternative to the cold.

The consistent rain over the past few months has really slowed fishing. The freshwater in the rivers and estuaries is making for poor fishing conditions, along with the chilling winds that are ripping the sea into a no go zone for most boaties. Let’s hope conditions soon change for the better.

All is not lost though; beach fishing in a sheltered corner or a close reef with some protection can still be worth a shot. Days of rain and wild conditions do tend to stir up the snapper, and always remember the jewfish love a little freshwater to hunt in, especially around the larger river mouths. Just don’t forget the gloves, wet weather gear and a good beanie.

Some decent fish, especially bream have been running along the south end of Stockton beach. The Hunter River mouth has also been productive on the incoming tides, especially the bigger tides. A few jewfish have been reported but getting live bait is like winning the lottery. All that is available at the moment are a few yakka’s, as the slimies have taken off to their time-share waters on the Gold Coast. Squid have also been hard to get hold of, appearing one day then disappearing the next.

The rock hoppers have been enjoying a good early season on drummer and luderick. For those who want to brave the cold I would say that this is the best option along with beach fishing. A peeled prawn or some abalone gut thrown into the white water should get you running hard, which will certainly warm you up.

A crab on a 2/0 or 4/0 dropped down around the kelp will get you into the groper, which pull hard and are very good on the plate. Red and blue groper are very common this month all along the coast.

If the rain lets up a little the estuaries will fire with big blue nose travelling bream. Salmon and tailor should still be around; groper, leatherjackets and trevally will be over the close kelpy reefs, and drummer in the foamy stuff. Offshore should also fire if we get a break in the wild weather. Expect some good winter snapper off Newcastle as well as some big trevally as the water cools.

My family and I have just returned from a central New South Wales holiday. If you think the drought is over and all the rain is helping our farmers and the rivers out west, think again. As soon as we crossed the Great Dividing Range the dust and brown dried land greeted us. From Denman in the North down to Bathurst they have barely had a drop of rain for close to three years. The Tuross River where we went to trout fish was dry with small pools of water. It really goes to show with all the floods and rain on the coast you get a false sense that everything is going along great.

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