Weather patterns really determine where and how we fish throughout the whole year and September in these parts is one of the trickiest months to predict anything.
We have westerly winds, very cool water, currents that sweep along the coast at rapid speeds and possibly an infestation of red weed.
September is either hot or cold for fishing.
Winter species are still everywhere. Salmon occupy the beaches and headlands, there are luderick and bream in the estuaries, snapper and tailor over the reefs and a multitude of sweep and leatherjackets. Trevally also show up.
Fishing at times can be spectacular but then there’s a downside – wind, rain and fast current can all make the fishing a hard slog. Braving the elements can reap real rewards but safety issues have to be addressed as well.
So this month more than most, the weather will dictate how and where we fish.
This month marks the first of the snapper spawn. The fish move in to shallow gravel areas and close reefs, making them very accessible to smaller trailer boats.
They feed on cuttlefish and migrating garfish, which rank high among their favourite foods. If you are in the right spot and have the right bait you definitely are in with a shot at the bigger fish, from 4kg up to the magic 10kg.
Records show that from now until the middle of October, most of the biggest snapper are taken.
The salmon have moved in to the beaches and headlands, where large schools hover over the sandy areas. Redhead Beach and Stockton Beach are covered in the schools, which you should be able to spot as you drive along.
If nothing else, they are fun on light gear. I experimented with metal lures painted white last year and found they took twice as many as chrome or silver lures.
The beach behind the soccer oval at Stockton has been holding good numbers of school tailor just over a kilo.
Early morning anglers have been getting a few bream and school sharks, which are more prevalent this month on the beaches.
School sharks are a delicacy down south and most sought after, yet most locals turn up our noses when we catch one. A barbecued boneless fillet of shark is very tasty and there is no end to what you can make from the fillets.
The schools of luderick that have entered the Hunter River around Horseshoe Beach should keep anglers happy. Behind the Sea Scouts building, all along Lee Wharf and along the Lions Park breakwalls there have been cricket score catches.
If you’re in a boat, pull up around the pylons on the shipping wharfs when its quiet and grab some weed, its so thick you can grab handfuls of it.
There’s plenty of cabbage on the rocks around Merewether baths. Just keep it damp in a scrap of rag until you’re ready to go for the luderick.
The winter run of big jewfish hasn’t lived up to recent years in the Hunter River. It could be fewer anglers chasing them, or the rain. Earlier word was of a lot of fishing and no fish but don’t despair, a lot of fish are taken in September.
Squid are about in large numbers. The best places are North Reef and the Swansea Channel around Moon Island – keep some for snapper baits.
A lot of the time we forget just how much help with fishing we get from fishing tackle shop owners and the blokes working there. These people are in the frontline when it comes to local information. Thanks to Craig Hain, formerly of Belmont Marine Sports, who has been a lifeline for this report and a wealth of information.Reads: 782