Top Shelf Catches
  |  First Published: November 2010

It’s time to dust off the offshore tackle and check those drags, as November is the beginning of offshore fishing in Port Stephens.

Along the shelf the first influx of warmer water has started to push down from the north bringing with it the odd stripe marlin, mahi mahi, and yellowfin tuna.

Anglers trolling skirted lures have already encountered stripe marlin, with some crews recording a couple of bites a day.

This is an encouraging sign but as always with early season there’s a lot of water between fish, plus the day-to-day fluctuating currents are also a factor.

Keep an eye on the sea surface temperatures and look for those warmer patches with less current.

Mahi mahi are a certainty with some bigger specimens showing up early season.

Trolling medium skirted lures or diving hardbodies to cover ground is the best option, but also try throwing livies around any traps or floating objects, as these will most definitely hold fish.

Jigging remains effective on the kingfish, with Allmark Mountain seeing plenty of activity.

Some switched on anglers have also found schools of kingies right along the shelf line. Local angler George Trinkler recently made a trip to the edge discovering a hot bite on kingies up to 10kg.

Closer to home we have resident bonito. These fish that usually leave during mid winter, but have been around most washes all year providing great bait and sport for younger anglers. Bonito numbers will become stronger as we slide towards summer.

Tailor are around most headlands with dawn and dusk productive. These fish are eager to bite hardbodied lures trolled close to the washes, while floating pilchards will also work well.

There’s still a chance of a feed of bream and drummer from the washes. Green prawns, cunjevoi and fresh bread baits are ideal. The trick is to move from wash to wash until you have success, but keep burley to a minimum, as the sweep will drive you insane.

Snapper fishers have still been doing well using floating baits in the shallows.

Cod rock, Mungos and North Island have been fishing well enough, but further south, Fishermans Bay and Boulder Bay have been producing plenty of fish up to 3kg.

Deeper waters such as the Tank mark and Boulder Bay wide have producing better quality snapper as well as mowong and the odd trag and school mulloway.

Those ever tasty sand flathead are reliable in water depths from 40-50m along the sand and gravel, flasher rigs spiced with a cube of pilchard are accounting for larger specimens.

Estuary fishing is going from strength to strength as summertime water temperatures start to rise and fish become more aggressive.

So far dusky flathead have been ferocious attacking soft plastics, hardbodies and baits either on the flats at high tide or on the deeper drop-offs as the tide begins to fall.

Try using more natural coloured lures on the high tide when the water is a little clearer; but once the tide turns and water clarity is turbid then brighter colors such as pink and chartreuse will attract bites.

Rohan from Castaway Estuary Charters reports some fantastic bream around the rock walls and racks throughout the port. Hardbodies, surface lures and plastics have been doing the job.

Sand whiting are now back in force foraging on the flats at high tide. Of course, live nippers and worms will be best but surface lures will feature as we make our way into summer.

Beach fishing is a great option at this time of year. Daylight saving offers a fantastic late afternoon session and can yield some terrific catches.

High tide offers some great whiting fishing in shallow gutters using live nippers, worms and peeled prawns. Be sure to use light fluorocarbon leaders of 4-6lb, as this will greatly improve your catch rate.

Tailor and salmon will still be on the cards and will react well to small metal lures as well as ganged pilchards. Birds working the edges of gutters will be dead give away to where these fish are.

After dark has seen plenty of school jew around Samurai Beach and towards the huts along Stockton; the key is to use the freshest bait possible.

Finally after years of being involved in the fishing industry I have decided to make it my career and open Tackle World Port Stephens. After growing up in the area for nearly 25 years I have built up some great knowledge of the area and have decided to share it with others.

So if you’re keen to find out the latest and greatest in fishing tackle or simply want to know the local report then why not pop in to see me in store at 100 Magnus Street Nelson Bay or email --e-mail address hidden-- or call (02) 49842144.

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