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It’s jacket time!
  |  First Published: July 2010



The big word is leatherjackets. I know they aren’t the most sought-after fish but eating them fresh from the barbecue, well, they don’t come up too badly at all. A touch of lemon and pepper, some chips and you wonder what the millionaires are doing!

Once the jackets show up, long-shank hooks are a must. And if you want to keep all your fingers, keep them well away from a jacket’s chompers. They are among the few fish that can bite straight through a steel hook.

August is a mixed bag around this area. Among the leatherjackets covering all the close inshore reefs are blue and red morwong.

These two cousins love fresh prawns and crabs and the eating quality of both species is awesome, I reckon. I know everyone’s taste is different, I have even seen blokes who like to eat salmon!

Brown and blue groper can also be taken this month. Some anglers go out for a day just to collect crabs, then keep them alive in wet hessian bag so later they can fish the rocky outcrops and reefs to catch these great fighting fish.

I have seen some huge groper caught over the years. Greg Harrison, a builder with arms like tree trunks, used to use an 80kg handline and just not let up on a fish. If a groper got away, he always said, ‘that must’ve been a big one’.

Squire and some snapper can be on the cards now and I already have noticed a lot of boats riding the swells off the Merewether and Redhead reefs looking for them.

My season for reds is just about to begin after I had some issues with my boat trailer. I have had it for 20 years, so I can’t complain.

The rocks have been fishing well but please use your common sense, we have lost to many rock fishos lately.

A huge fish-restocking program is in the pipeline for Lake Macquarie. A $1 million environmental study will be under way to see how this affects the fishery in the lake.

The plan is to stock the lake with bream and jewfish, so hopefully the next few years will show how a waterway without nets and a million traps can fish to its full potential. The money is coming from our licence fees.

The beaches have salmon all over them but that isn’t surprising at this time of year. Kids and first-time anglers who haven’t caught a big fish can have a lot of fun with these.

I like the non-stop action myself sometimes, and at times you get a pleasant surprise when a huge bream or tailor grabs the trolled or cast lure.

In the Hunter River the water has cooled but a few flathead have still been taken.

LUDERICK THICK

Bream and luderick have been the main drawcards with the luderick moving around in great numbers.

The weed around the rocks near Merewether Baths is thick and lush and the first place I would go looking for some. The Soldiers Pool at the start of Nobbys Beach is also good.

Jewfish have been lurking around and still are an option. I maintain the biggest jewfish are taken in the worst of weather. When the westerlies blow the hell out of the river, the fish don’t seem to be so shy.

Just don’t put your life at risk, because an incoming tide and a westerly wind belt up walls of water and in a small boat a rogue wave or a huge bow wave from a ship can swamp you very easily.

Trolling along Stockton wall has been turning up some nice tailor and a slab of fresh tailor (or a fresh squid) should give you a good chance of a jew.

The drop-over out the front of the pilot station is a good starting point, as is the end of Stockton Wall.

The sandy drop out from Horseshoe Beach is another well-0known spot for jewfish and for big bream. The bottom drops off gradually so look for any unusual structure, there are a few rocky areas just out from the sixth light post on Nobbys Head.

There are so many places to chase jewfish in the Hunter River you could fill this whole magazine. Or you could do what I do – just fish for bream and flathead and keep a big jewfish rig out as well, no matter where you are on the river.

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