More howling westerlies and the distraction of fast cars make fishing an unlikely prospect this weekend for many, but strong catches of flathead could be a lure for keen anglers.
Powerful westerly winds which led to dust storms on Thursday were predicted to back off only slightly for the weekend, making fishing conditions still less than ideal.
However, regular reports of flathead hauls from estuaries all over the region will give encouragement to any fishos keen to wet a quiet line instead of heading to the Newcastle 500 Supercars.
Brent “Hammer” Hancock, from Tackle World Port Stephens, was one trading fishing for the thrill of the Supercars finale but he said flathead was there for the taking for anyone keen to “tuck in and fish the shallows” out of the wind.
“There’s been plenty of reports of flathead, which is typical for this time of the year,” Hancock said.
“Chris [Drake[, from the shop here, went up and fished the mouth of the Karuah River during the week and caught some nice lizards up to about 70 centimetres, just throwing plastics around.”
Jason “One For” Nunn, from Fisherman’s Warehouse, Marks Point, had similar reports from Lake Macquarie.
“There’s been some really nice flathead around,” he said. “They turned it on last Sunday. There were quite a few caught and released, plenty up around those high 80s and even 90s.”
He said a 93-centimetre male was even caught and released twice.
”It was tagged by Nathan Debono down in the Lake and it got caught this week in Swansea Channel,” he said. “It had probably travelled three or four kilometres in three or four days.
“Nathan got an 89 as well and there were couple in the 70s. Steve Norris was fishing with him and I think they caught 16, 17 fish through the day and took a couple home. It was a really solid session on plastics.”
He said there had also been catches of undersized but plentiful flatheads in the rivers.
Geoff “Kanga” Ruse, from Freddy’s Fishing World at Broadmeadow, said Newcastle Harbour had also been providing flathead.
“There’s been quite a few lizards around and they are catching them on Vibelicious 10 grammers,” he said.
“Two personal favourites of mine are the thumper tail and brown shrimp. I’ve also got a few bream and jews on them as well.”
While these unusual cold westerly winds won’t inspire many family trips to the beach, Nunn believes the offshore conditions and warming waters could be worth the effort for anglers.
Whiting, bream, flathead and jew fish have been stock catches off the beaches.
“The waters on the coast are 19, 20 degrees and that makes it a peak time for beach fishing,” Nunn said.
“If the swell doesn’t come up, it’s probably a great time to crack out the beach rods.
“There’s some beautiful fish on the beaches and as this tide starts to move around a bit more, it might be an opportunity to chase up a jew fish in these westerly conditions, especially with the barometer being reasonably low. I always like to fish the beach on a low barometer.”
Hancock had similar ideas and was contemplating a late run to Stockton Beach on Thursday.
“The water is starting to warm up a bit and I know a local guy, Jamie Colver, he’s pulled in a couple of nice jewies off the beaches this week,” he said.
“I think it was Stockton or Birubi. They were up to 12 kilos. With these westerlies, it might be a good time for it.
“Whiting are starting to turn up on the beaches as well. They are not in big numbers yet but they are there and over the next month it should get better.”
Ruse added: “Tailor have gone a bit quiet but the whiting is starting to come on and they are getting bream, flathead and a few jew. Some up around the 20-kilo size, so there’s nothing wrong with that.”
Catches of snapper, jew and king fish were highlights of offshore and Nelson Bay trips before the big blow.
“There’s been plenty of good jewies in the bay,” Hancock said. “Paul Lennon from Port Stephens Estuary Charters was nailing some really nice jewies for his clients. I believe he got one up to 15 kilos this week, up the back of Soldiers Point.
“There were some good reddies caught this week as well. I know Abbey Smith, she fished with her dad during the week and got some snapper up around Broughton Island. Another customer was fishing deeper water, 80 to 100 metres, on some of the reefs there and he’s been getting jewies up to about 10 kilos.
“And there’s a few trag starting to turn up, with that water up around 19 degrees now, on those reefs.”
Nunn said kings had been biting off Catherine Hill Bay, Mawson Breakwater, Norah Head and the Farm.
“I spoke to some guys at the boat ramp at Blacksmiths last Saturday and they had their bag limits of kings, five each. Nothing bigger than 80 centimetres but they looked pretty happy with themselves.”
Nunn said Lake Macquarie had also been fishing well for jew and kings.
“There’s been a few jew around the 60s and some up to almost a metre,” he said.
“Also some nice kings. I saw a photo the other day of a king caught in the Lake that was 108 centimetres. That’s a cracking fish caught on the Lake.”
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