This can be one of the hardest months to find fish in this area but not because the numbers aren’t consistent – it’s the wind that dictates when and how you are able to fish.
We get wild westerlies and, along with the chill factor, it’s usually a hard slog to find somewhere out of the wind to actually catch fish.
Drummer, leatherjackets, groper, bream and luderick are the main targets this month.
All can be taken from rock ledges that are at times the only places to be when a howling, cold westerly is pumping.
The inshore waters are also calm but get out wider and you get the full brunt and in small boats it can be a cold, wet trip.
But the reefs can be full of snapper, bream, morwong, leatherjackets and the odd school jewfish.
Trevally also turn up along the Hunter Coast in vast numbers when the water cools. They fight well but aren’t that great on the plate.
The same goes for the salmon which invade this area, great fun to catch but you have to play patty cakes with them.
The beaches have slowed apart from a few reports of good bream from Stockton with a lot of salmon.
The early risers have been getting stuck into tailor and although not as big as in previous months, they are still in good numbers and worth an early outing.
The estuary is by far the best bet, with the Hunter River still producing flathead as well as bream, school jew and a few cracker jewies close to 20kg.
As long as you have live baits or the freshest bait you can, I think you’re in with a chance.
Unfortunately the Hunter gets to be a wind tunnel in a westerly and it’s difficult to fish but this is probably the best time to seek out jewfish, which like the rougher conditions and feed a little more freely. Maybe that’s the reason behind so many big fish hitting the decks over this Winter.
My fishing diaries tell me the Hunter River fishes best on a rising tide in the roughest water, and that’s the westerly that slams down the Carrington Basin right out to the river mouth.
Top of tide or any change of tide is well worth a try.
In the close offshore waters, the squid are finally starting to show and I believe this is another crucial factor why the Hunter fishes so well at this time of year.
The Adolf wreck just out the back is one of the best places to find squid and sometimes the small beach which breaks up the two Stockton rock walls are well worth a try, just up from the Lions Park.
The close reefs are still holding school kingfish along with the chance of a couple of bigger models.
North Reef, the Granites and the Dumping Ground all produce kings along with squire and bream.
Snapper turn up on these reefs but for best results on reds, take a run down towards Red Head, the reefs from there all the way up through Merewether and off Bar Beach fish a lot better.
Don’t forget a squid jig; the reefs at times can hold vast amounts of live bait for these tasty morsels. I sometimes can’t bring myself to use all them for bait, they are just too good to eat.
So having a trip out this month can reap real rewards. Factor in the wind and height of the seas and I am sure you will get onto some good fish around this area.Reads: 1230