Anglers could be forgiven for questioning fishing’s appeal as a participation sport with the weather so up and down.
Conditions have been windy, wet and/or wild for the last three weeks, at least, punctuated by intermittent windows of opportunity
Those opportunities, such as this week, have revealed abundant winters species active throughout estuaries and along inshore reefs.
“We’ve seen really nice bream coming in off the beach and rocks along with some lovely drummer and great a spread luderick,” Shannon Malone, from Fisherman’s Warehouse at Marks Point said.
“Lake anglers have been picking up flathead and jew, extra large tailor and salmon by the thousands.”
The forecast is looking OK this weekend with mostly sunny days, crisp temperatures and light winds, suggesting inshore reefs will be fishable, particularly for snapper.
Shannon is heading up to Port Stephens this weekend to have a crack, and he should go well according to Brent “Hammer” Hancock, from Tackle World Port Stephens.
“All the inshore reefs are holding really nice reds – from Fishermans Bay to Edith Breakers,” Hammer said.
“It’s that time of year when they move inshore to spawn. This weekend will be definitely worth a shot.
“I know of a few guys who have been enjoying great success on the plastics like your trusty Gulp Jerk Shad.
“Even fishing off the rocks, anglers have been getting snapper mixed in with luderick and drummer.”
Inside the bay, Hammer reports heaps of luderick around.
“Locals are smashing them and it’s the same with the bream. Beaches have been sensational with quality tailor and salmon about. The tailor have been pushing a couple of kilos in size, and the salmon, well, there not everyone’s cup of tea but they’re great fun on metal spinners.”
Out wide remains a bit of a mystery because no-one has ventured.
But further south there has been a good tuna bite south of Sydney as far down as Bermagui.
“I’ve heard of guys getting four-way hook-ups on bluefin,” Shannon said.
“It’s yet to be seen if that sort of thing can be replicated off Newcastle but I hear there is good water out wider, even though it’s gone fairly cold from shore to Shelf.”
Newcastle co-op is awash with prawns this week as the seas settled down and the boats were able to get out.
“We knew they were there but couldn’t get to them because of the weather,” co-op manager Robert Gauta said.
“We call them Newcastle king prawns, but they are actually Eastern King Prawns.”
Given we all love prawns and it’s a bit of a slow news week, it seems timely to reflect on the humble EKP and just how lucky we Novocastrians are to have them fresh at our fingertips.
According to NSW Fisheries, the Eastern King Prawn (Melicertus plebejus) is only found in the coastal regions of eastern Australia between central/northern Queensland and eastern Victoria.
EKP mainly spawn in deeper waters off northern NSW to Rockhampton in Queensland.
Larvae develop as they drift south in the east Australian current before moving into the lower reaches of estuaries.
They leave estuaries as late-juveniles to further develop and reach maturity in coastal habitats before migrating back to the northern spawning areas.
EKP can grow to a length of 30cm, while School Prawns grow to about half this. Although there is no minimum length, a bag limit of 10 litres in total is in place for one or a combination of the two species. Ninety per cent of prawns that anglers get will be EKP.
“Newcastle and places like Coffs Harbour and Ballina are unique in terms of Australia, in that locals get access to fresh prawns, due to our proximity to this wonderful natural live resource,” Robert said.
“It’s easy to take that for granted, but other areas around the country will more likely be sourcing and selling frozen versions of the product.
“We freeze a few as we go – we’ve got about 4 tonne frozen – so that we can supplement our supply as the fresh prawns drop off, but during this period from mid-March to June-July, its a bonanza of fresh prawns the envy of prawn-lovers Australia-wide.”
Meanwhile, another seasonal headline sure to excite in some circles, Robert reports decent catches of hairtail off the coast this week, indicating this species, popular with certain sections of the community is beginning its annual spawning run.
If recent years are anything to go by, it’ll be standing room only on the jetty’s along Honeysuckle as the season heats up.