Fish right on cue
  |  First Published: December 2010

Ah, those Summer days! The only other thing an angler can wish for is heaps of fish and, right on cue, we have had all manner of species firing up in the waters around Port Stephens.

Those stormy afternoons that bring little wind and balmy temperatures can offer a hot bite in many locations but it’s the estuary that really ignites.

Surface luring for bream and whiting is one of my favourites and a rising tide over the flats and rock walls is where you will find both species.

With water temps in the mid-20s bream and whiting will move further upstream, around Tilligerry Creek, Swan Bay and the Karuah River.

I have been using the new Nories Treju 50mm, the smaller cousin to the 65mm which last year brained some stud whiting over 40cm. It is spot-on.

As for the bream, those walk-the-dog styles seem to be best with a stop start retrieve, which can pull some big bream out of very shallow water.


Flathead seem to go from strength to strength with many anglers dropping into the shop or even phoning while out on the water to report close encounters with big lizards.

Lures have been the best to encourage a bite, especially over the shallow, mangrove-lined flats. Try using shallow hardbodies and the ever-reliant soft plastics.

For bait, I recommend whitebait rigged on smaller gang hooks and slowly rolled just above the bottom.

The best land-based areas have been Shoal Bay, Nelson Bay Beach, the groynes at Corlette, and Jimmies Beach on the northern side.

If you’re boat- or kayak-based, try Tilligerry Creek or the Karuah River behind the oyster racks at the beginning of the run-out tide, then fish the deeper drop-offs once as the flats drain.

Mulloway have made an appearance at their usual haunts such as Middle Island, the bridges at Karuah and the wreck in Salamander Bay. Live baits such as slimy mackerel and squid are the best baits and it’s worth doing the extra work to gather these baits.

Beach fishing is improving as water temperatures rise.

Whiting have gathered in many gutters, especially along Fingal, Samurai, Kingsley and Birubi beaches. Live worms and nippers are the best baits but peeled green prawns also work well.

Plenty of tailor and salmon are in the same locations with early morning or late afternoons the best time.

After dark, mulloway have made appeared, with the combination of a later high tide and fresh bait is the key. Areas further down Stockton Beach towards the Signa wreck offer some nice gutters to hold plenty of fish.

Rock fishing is consistent with tailor early morning off headlands such as those at Box Beach, Sunny Corner and Barry Park. Garfish rigged on 5/0 ganged hooks slowly rolled through the washes will definitely attract a tailor’s attention and don’t be surprised if the odd snapper joins in.

There’s still a chance of the odd black drummer with some customers reporting cracking fish up to 5kg taking large peeled prawns, cunjevoi and bread in the washes.


The offshore scene has spiked with many of the reefs north of Broughton Island yielding quality snapper and trag.

Those who gather live slimy mackerel will do best but floatlining with pilchards will also work.

Plenty of mid-sized kingies are in the washes at Little Island and on the northern side of Fingal Head, where live bait and diving lures like Yo Zuri Hydro Magnums trolled through the washes will be eaten.

Resident bonito just won’t go away. They make fantastic baits for anything but I have also heard that they are excellent on the table.

Out wide, larger mahi mahi have made a return around the fish trap floats and current edges with plenty of fish around 20kg hitting trolled skirted lures such as the Zuker ZM.

Striped marlin are also about but baitfish seem to be patchy as the East Australian Current fluctuates. Out wide in 500 fathoms, those trolling larger lures have also reported blue marlin. Be sure to find the skipjack tuna schools and there should be a blue not too far away.

If you’re a visiting angler, call me at the shop on 02 4984 2144 or email --e-mail address hidden-- for the best fishing reports in Port Stephens.

Good-sized mahi mahi have headed down on the first fingers of warm current, with fish better than 20kg grabbing lures and live bait.
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