Fishing with Insight

Gary Earl introduces us to his fishing back yard, the Hunter Coast and Upper Hunter Valley Waters, and shares with us his knowledge of understanding your environment to increase your strike rate.

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I would like to welcome you to the great fishing region of the NSW Hunter Coast and Upper Hunter Valley waters. This is my fishing backyard and in this article I would like to share with you this great fishing region and my tips and techniques I apply for fishing.

The fishing in this region is diverse. On any given day of any month you can find fish somewhere. Either being out at sea or a stream in the mountains, on the beach, lakes and numerous rivers which snake through the lower lying areas, there is always somewhere to fish.

Recently the region hasn’t had too much rain so the salinity levels are up and far reaching through the Hunter River and Patterson River system. Due to this you can find areas that hold both fresh water fish along with estuary species. Bass are typical of this and commonly caught. On the next cast you may hook a flathead or bream, so in fishing you never know what you will catch using a lure or bait.

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I have caught flathead up around Tocal, near sixty kilometres from the rivers mouth, and I have seen chopper tailor in this area as well. After rain and I do mean good flooding rain, these waters flush themselves out, and the freshwater fish move further up stream as the salt water species move down. Crabs are known to do this in vast numbers, if the river becomes fresh for awhile. The crabs that are up in the mangrove area follow this dirty water down and feed closer to the mouth.

I am a true believer in barometer readings and using the time before a storm brews is a great time for fishing. At this particular time insects are knocked from trees, and when the winds pick up, the insects land on the water to be captured. Hence the reason , fly fishermen love a little bit of wind to stir things up.

I myself am not a keen avid fly fisher. I do a little, but I am far from an expert in that field. I am an estuary boat, beach, river, stream and rock fisho, with a little fly fishing thrown in.

I fish with baits as well as lures and tend to have my days figured out where I will go and what I will target. For example , from February to June estuaries that hold good amounts of oysters tells me there will be Bream around. The oyster farmers in some estuaries have to take their racks out of the water to kill the pacific oysters off, then the Sydney rock oysters go back in to grow fatter and then the bream go crazy and fatten up on the dead oysters around the racks for their spawning runs. With this information I know the fish will be running the beaches, so during that period I fish for them especially on overcast days using pipis , prawns and fresh mullet strips on the beach. At night I fish for the Bream around the actual racks by using floating soldier crabs and prawns.

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I keep a look out for changes in the colour of the water, which shows temperature change, or a clean current running either north or south which usually holds schools of bait, so you know a predator isn’t far away. Birds are a great tool for this. If there a lot of birds around you can be sure there will be fish also.

Let what is going on around you in your environment help your fishing and your strike rate will go up. If you see on rocks there is a lot of crabs and cunjevoi you can be sure Groper and Drummer won’t be far away. With regards to fishing with bait, I take the time to collect what is on the spot, remembering that is what the fish are hanging around for. A crab on a hook washing around in under the suds won’t last long with Groper, Drummer or a Big Blue Nose Bream.

If you use slimy mackerel or squid as bait , you can be sure Tailor, Kingfish , Bonito, and other big fish will be hungering for this bait. Use a balloon or a float so the bait is swimming erratically which in turn puts out a pulse under the water which brings in the fish to take the prey . The more your bait dances around and swims the more the fish are will willingly take it.

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Over the years I have talked to hundreds of anglers and asked the question why they fish. I get a lot of different answers, some do it for the thrill such as the land based game fisho’s , others for peace and quiet and a bit of serenity. Others have told me they just love boating so they fish also. There are many ways to catch fish. The technology in sounders and GPS’s has assured us we can have a better chance of catching fish , but you can’t always rely on tools and electronics.

It is what you are seeing around you and knowing the seasons, and what fish to target at that time can hold the key. One very simple method I have adopted is to keep a diary of my fishing. I have for over twenty years, and a pattern has emerged of that being the months and temperatures are the main two factors, These two factors have helped me. I look up where I was fishing in any given month the year prior, the barometer reading and tide and the moon phases. If I caught fish in some certain area in say March, I will haunt that place again. It does not work all the time , as nothing is 100 percent especially with weather and fishing as it’s so unpredictable, but in saying that I have caught bream in the same place year after year based on the records I have kept in my diary.

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So that is what I do and you know a bit about how I fish . I intend to bring you more news from this region , both fresh and saltwater fishing , and to keep you informed on what is happening around these waterways.

Gary Earl

About Gary Earl

Gary is an avid fisherman from the Northern Territory, he has spent many years their chasing fish and getting hell bent on both shooting and fishing. He is mostly an estuary and rock fishermen these days, but has been lucky enough to do some game fishing in both places at times. Gary now reside in Newcastle, he fishes for all sorts of species and have been writing about his experiences for over fifteen years. He has written for many publications including the local papers in Port Stephens area, Fishing Monthly Group, Trailer boat and Trailer boat fishermen.

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