I must be the first to admit that the past two months have been a scenario of great guesswork and sheer luck. Rain, floods and strong winds have made it a very hard task to find out what and where the fish are biting. This unpredictable weather is causing havoc on both estuaries and offshore, as well as rivers in our area.
In early June the fishing was a bit on the ordinary side and lots of boats just hadn’t been able to venture out a lot.
One positive of the past few months has been the amount of bream and tailor that were schooling off Newcastle on the Merewether Reefs. Some schools have been spread out, but the size has been consistent with tailor reaching 2-4kg, and bream just over 1kg.
The boys from Freddy’s Fishing world also mentioned a lot of bream in the lower parts of the river, due to the fish looking for some salinity and clean water. I would be targeting these from the harbour mouth to Hexham. Above that limit, unless the rain stops a little, the water is just too dirty. But, we all know that a week can make a big difference in what’s happening on the water and that the bream do travel and venture along way up the systems we have here.
Don’t forget any encounters with the big female bass that are moving down to spawn should end in release. I think with that attitude, the next few years that will make the Hunter, Williams and Patterson Rivers premium spots to bass fish through summer.
As well as bream, the shallows are still holding a good enough number of flathead to make them a target this month. If you’re lucky, school jewfish which should be around by now and they may well just crunch a lure.
More and more fishermen are walking both the Stockton and Nobby’s break walls casting large rubber lures such as rubber Storms and also slimy mackerel patterned Rapalas. These have not only got a few nice jewfish, but since they get down a little, a few anglers have been picking up larger than usual flathead.
Live baiting is a good option with the tailor around. Legal sized tailor aren’t too big to pin on for big jewfish. I see a lot of anglers sneak a few small tailor in to use. Don’t be tempted, as I was chatting to two Fisheries officers who said that undersized live baits will be a main target on the walls this year.
Squid are another easy bait to get - just above or below the Adolph Wreck - as are yellowtail and the odd pike, which jewfish really do love.
From the Stockton Bridge up to Fullerton Cove the flats and shallows are holding flathead. Just be aware that a bit of debris is being pumped down from the farmlands that were flooded not to long back. Mud crabs should love this sort of water. I have found that at times of huge rains they travel down river to new areas then return as the salinity levels rise. A good start is around Mosquito Creek to the Hexham Bridge.
Tailor, bream, salmon and jewfish should be patrolling the beaches as they are pushed outside by floodwaters. Bream and tailor would be the better of the daytime targets, then get a bit more on the heavy side of an evening as bigger fish move in.
One thing that is in the favour of the beach fishermen is the huge seas that have created some nice gutters.
After huge seas pipis are a little easier to find. Bream, flounder, flathead and tailor (yes, tailor) at times take a pipi. The quicker you’re out there the better after a big sea. It is a pretty widely known secret that a lot of fishermen hit the beaches directly after rough weather and experience some great fishing. It’s not rocket science to figure a few days or a week of really stirred up sand lifts the shellfish and worms closer to the surface.
As the winter really sets in and we have had some huge seas in this area, it’s a real guess what’s going to be out on the reefs. Morwong, trevally and snapper all love a bit of the rough water, but it’s getting out to the reefs which is the difficult part. The bigger the boat, of course, the better your chances are of getting out. Remember that the risk in small boats isn’t worth a feed of fish.
North Reef, Middle Reef, The Gravel and The Dumping Grounds are all fairly close to get a fast morning fish in.
One of my favourite spots is a hop, skip and jump from the mouth of the river. That’s having a quick troll along the front of Big Ben Reef. Tailor and kingfish as well as salmon are the usual quarry. I troll a medium chrome lure, a diving lure that’s down around ten feet and if big tailor or kings are around I troll a popper along letting it dance all over the place. It does at times get tangled, but I find using very heavy mono sorts it out a bit.
If it isn’t too rough, anchor for some squire, bream, leatherjackets – They are all good on a barbecue. There is a great chance of jewfish at top of the tide along this reef also, but be really careful the water is shallow and has a tendency to lift without warning, so only anchor around here in good conditions.
So this month if you can get yourself out to the reefs you should do well, if not hit the beaches, if the rain is persisting as your reading this get some fresh squid or yellowtail and live bait both the harbour walls.Reads: 3258