An expert’s guide to fishing in NSW
If you like to throw a line in, there are few better places to do it than in NSW. From tranquil lakes and rivers to sandy beaches, you can find the perfect spot for beginners, experts and everyone in between.
Born and raised on the shores of Lake Macquarie, Jonathon was introduced to fishing at a very young age by his father. At the age of 16 he joined forces with Australian TV presenter Michael Guest on his national TV show Reel Action, and on the Reel Action Fishing Podcast. Jonathon also creates short fishing films and tutorials that are aimed at teaching, motivating, or inspiring beginners to improve their success on the water.
What are your top three fishing spots in NSW?
What a tough question! NSW has so many great options when it comes to fishing. If I had to choose, my list would be:
Coffs Harbour. They often say Coffs is where the north and south meet, and such a statement does in fact have some truth behind it. You seem to be able to target so many different species in this part of the world. Whether it be the 'northern' species, such as mackerel, mahi mahi or cobia, or some of our freshwater battlers in the form of the Aussie bass or rainbow trout, there is so much fishing to be done here.
Lake Macquarie. Being the largest saltwater tidal lake in the Southern Hemisphere, Lake Macquarie just has so many options. I have grown up on the shores of the lake, and have been lucky enough to explore every nook and cranny to be found. It is also a great place to learn your trade, whether you're a young lad wanting to get started, or just want to get the kids out on the water. It has sand flats, drop offs, sunken boats and all the cafes and restaurants you want for a great family fishing location.
Lake St Clair. One word here; beautiful! We are so lucky to have such an abundance of freshwater dams in NSW. St Clair, close to Singleton, is the perfect spot for a weekend away, whether you want to chase an Australian bass or go wakeboarding, it's such a nice place to wind down.
What’s the best destination for a fishing holiday the whole family can enjoy?
Lake Macquarie – easily! Sand banks, cafes, local parks, clear water and so many kilometres to explore. Plus, the fishing is excellent! I would suggest grabbing some fresh worms from the local tackle shop and heading to the flats in search of a whiting or bream, before stopping off at Wangi Wangi Bakery for a coffee and pie. Doesn't get much better in my books.
Where should I take someone who’s never been fishing (or says they don’t like fishing!)?
The beach! NSW has hundreds of beaches along the coast that offer some fantastic fishing. The best part about heading to the beach, though, is if the fishing is slow, you can enjoy the surroundings and not be limited to being in a boat or kayak. When I was growing up I would often become impatient with the fishing and instead kick the footy around or go for a run or swim. If you're going to take someone to your local beach, be sure to choose ones with limited people, so your lines don’t interfere with anyone, and take your rubbish when you leave.
If I’m an experienced fisher and looking for a challenge, where should I go?
Newcastle Harbour. The silver mulloway (or jewfish) is undoubtedly the holy grail when it comes to fishing, and Newcastle harbour is the home of the 70-pounder. Unfortunately, they can be difficult fish to catch, especially if you're chasing a mega one. If you want a challenge, head to Newcastle Harbour and try your luck soaking a bait along the rock wall. I'll see you there!
What do you need to do differently when fishing in the ocean as opposed to lakes or rivers?
Plenty! The beauty of fishing in NSW is the variety of places you can fish, but this also means you have to be flexible and adjust your technique. If you're fishing off the beach, use monofilament line as opposed to braid, this will give you higher abrasion resistance along the sand which could be the difference between landing that fish of a lifetime! If you're heading offshore to fish from a boat, you need to up-size your tackle. In the estuaries you can get away with fishing 2-4kg or 3-5kg rods, but outside, where the fish are bigger and you're competing with the food chain (namely sharks), you need to be fishing 4-8kg or 6-10kg size rods. As for safety, if you're fishing offshore there are some requirements to fulfill, such as lifejackets, flares, V-Sheet, radio and water – be sure to read up on what you need before you hit the water.
What other activities go well with a fishing holiday?
Camping, wakeboarding, hiking, cooking – the beauty of a fishing holiday in NSW is that you can combine so many outdoor activities in the one weekend. Picture this: walk to the fishing spot along a hiking trail, catch a fish off the beach with the family, quick swim as the sun gets up, cook the fish for lunch back at the campsite, then finish the day with an afternoon waterski on the nearby lake. Perfect, right?