THEY are one of the most mysterious fish you will ever see.
The hairtail scientific name Trichiurus lepturus is a member of the cutlassfish family, Trichiuradae, that is widely dispersed across the temperate oceans of the world.
When the Newcastle Herald visited Throsby Wharf at dusk on that Sunday in March, 2016, dozens of anglers almost all of them from western Sydney, and almost all of Asian descent were in the midst of a fishing frenzy.
Most were armed with long, whippy rods, and most were using pilchards for bait, rigged on triple-ganged hooks.
Many had illuminated floats believed to attract the fish and some were having success with rubber lures jigged through the darkening water.
Despite their wide distribution about the globe, the fish are very rarely caught by weekend anglers, and were for many years associated with just one waterway Cowan Creek and its nearby tributaries in the lower Hawkesbury River, in Ku-Ring-Gail Chase National Park.
But hairtail have also been caught in Botany Bay, Port Kembla and as the line of fishers along Throsby Creek showed in March the Port of Newcastle.
Hairtail are regarded as good eating they are sometimes sold through the Sydney Fish Markets but they are primarily regarded as a sporting fish, especially on light lines. They are believed to move out of deep ocean waters into east coast estuaries each autumn, swimming in big to massive schools.
They are aggressive hunting fish with large barbed teeth, like fish-hooks.
On that Sunday evening, March 12, the fish seemed to come in waves, with anglers pulling in a flurry of fish in a short period, before things would become quiet again.
Hong Jang, of Campsie, who showed off one of his catches, said Newcastle harbour was well-known in his community as a hairtail spot.
Hairtail grow to two metres and five kilograms but most of the fish pulled in on Sunday night were about a metre in length.
Not so big, Hong Jang said. They get much bigger.
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