Westerly calls the shots
  |  First Published: July 2009

This month I would be using the wind to determine where I fish: Spend the good days out in the boat and when the westerlies are roaring, put in time on the beach or a sheltered corner of an estuary.

Around this area all our estuary mouths face east as they empty to the open sea – all good when the winds are up your transom on the way offshore, giving you a shove, saving you fuel and giving a smooth ride.

But heading back home, slamming over bone-jarring vertical walls of water isn’t fun and not many of us like the westerlies that pump through to September.

You will get the odd week when the going’s good but you have to pick it; the river and bars are sometimes just too rugged to bother to take on unless you have a sizable boat with plenty of power.

Damn Winter again – cold seats and dew on everything, but unless you’re willing to brave the cold, you aren’t going to catch some of the nice fish that call our frigid waters home at this time of year.

The big news has been tailor, with seemingly everyone into some nice fish. I think more of the larger schools move into our area as the water cools and there will be plenty of salmon among them.

Under these salmon schools, mixed with the tailor are bream and flathead. Commonsense tells you the surface fish make a frenzied attack on bait and the bits that fall off to the sea bed or half way down in the water column are keenly taken by the bottom-dwellers that travel and feed with the schools.


The waters up around Hexham and Fullerton Cove are much warmer than the depths of the rivers close to their mouths. Nice flathead are still being caught and enough bream are around to make good targets with lures by day and floating baits at night.

The good people at Newcastle’s NSW Maritime office tell me the work has slowed right down since the licence changes came into effect. It’s a bit harder now to obtain a boat licence and takes longer with the logbook so only the keenest of boaties and fishermen take the time out to get one. We should all feel safer knowing that most people will have more of a general idea of what they’re doing on the water.

The Reefs off Merewether have given up some good squire recently with the pilchards, slabs of yellowtail, bottle squid and strips of mullet, along with a good Baitrunner reel so the reds can feel little weight and bolt off before being hooked.

A few snapper around 3kg to 4kg and some kingfish close to 9kg have been taken on the southern reefs with some slightly smaller fish around North Reef and the Granites. Over the next two months the reds will be bigger as they move in close for their annual spawn. Don’t forget soft plastics also take their share as well.

The beaches should have schooling bream, tailor and a lot of salmon to keep the action on the boil. Flathead have been taken just behind the breakers.

The rocky washes have a lot of drummer and some nice squire and bream. I nailed my biggest snapper from the rocks, a 4kg fish, so they are out there, it’s just a matter of putting in the time.

Others have told me they are connecting with 2kg to 3kg reds that end up in their drummer berley. Most were taken on peeled prawns.


Kingfish are around but you must pick your weather days to seek them. North Reef should be your first stop, fresh squid and chrome heavy jigs seemingly work the best, as do poppers thrown close into the buoy. Don’t forget the waverider buoy further out.

Luderick have swarmed into Newcastle Harbour, so a day chasing these may be worthwhile,

The lads at Freddy’s Fishing World and Tackle Power tell me there have been a number of school jewfish in the Hunter River – not huge, but nice fish around 12kg.

One angler weighed in a 4kg flathead at Tackle Power that was close on 90cm and although most of us like to see these fish set free, a mount of your biggest fish can be a focal discussion point on the loungeroom wall.

So the fishing isn’t shaping up too badly, if you can keep the sergeant bakers from taking the bait before the snapper and squire. There are also trevally, leatherjackets, morwong and the odd shark. A mate bought a 2.7m bronze whaler to show me, hopefully the smell will leave his car in a month or two.

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