Typically the offshore scene comes alive at this time of year and already there have been plenty of striped marlin and the odd black and blue along the continental shelf.
Switch-baiting is a great option now, especially if the current decides to pick up. Billmark skirted lures such as the Dougal and Moldcraft’s Bobby Brown Snr are excellent teaser lures and can be rigged with a belly flap of striped tuna to add a little taste.
Make sure you’re prepared when switch-baiting and have a variety of baits ready to go, especially a live slimy mackerel rigged on 150lb Momoi leader and a couple of skip baits, either bonito or slimy mackerel, on 200lb leader. I have salted bonito skip baits ready to go with 10/0 Owner Mutu circle hooks in store.
Mahi mahi are plentiful around the FAD but it’s essential you’re there early and have live baits rigged on 50lb fluorocarbon leaders for best results.
In close around the islands, hoodlum kings have been toying with many anglers. Live baits such as squid and slimy mackerel are by far the best to tempt large hoodlums but if you don’t want to go to the fuss larger diving hard lures such as Yo-Zuri Hydro Magnums and Strada HD Tracka 140s trolled among the washes around 6 knots will get eaten.
The deeper reefs around the Big Gibber have produced some great trag and excellent pearl perch. Simple paternoster rigs with 40lb fluorocarbon and light-gauge circle hooks are ideal baited with slimy mackerel fillets or fresh arrow squid.
A few jew are around Broughton Island with anglers after dark at Mungos and south of Looking Glass catching fish up to 15kg.
Drifts in 40m to 50m are proving and flasher rigs have been nailing sand flathead to 60cm.
Plenty of big sand whiting are on the sand flats at high tide and are eager to eat a live yabby, tube worm or surface lure.
When using baits try lighter 4lb fluorocarbon leaders for more bites from those larger, cautious fish.
When it comes to surface lures, a 40cm length of 10lb fluorocarbon is the go, especially if a flathead decides to join in.
The flats are alive with flathead of all sizes with whitebait rigged on small ganged hooks drifted along the edges working well.
Of course, soft plastics always account for plenty of lizards with larger fish liking the new Berkley 4” Jigging Grub and 4” Ripple Mullet. Try Jimmys Beach, Pindimar Bay and North Arm Cove.
Bream are still about the rock walls and surface lures have been deadly. I managed an afternoon away from the shop recently and my favourite Lucky Craft NW Pencil did not fail me and I mongered a dozen fish up to 41cm in two hours.
The tides are important when surface fishing and I try to coincide my sessions with a rising tide to cover shallow rocky areas where just enough water covers a bream’s back.
Middle Island holds plenty of soapy school jew with live squid and slimy mackerel working well. The wreck in Salamander Bay and the bridges at Karuah will also be worth a go.
Surprisingly, quality tailor up to 4kg have been turning up along the rocks and beaches. I sent one Sydney customer up to Fingal Spit with a few Arma Spinners and a couple hours later he returned with a fantastic 3.5kg tailor.
I have also had reports of fish to 3kg from the rocks at Boat Harbour, Sunny Corner and One Mile Point. Your best bet will be slow-rolling pilchards in the washes early mornings or you could also try a surface lure such as the C’ultiva 115mm Tango Dancer.
Some snapper have come from the rocks early morning around Fishermans Bay and Morna Point on floating baits.
Sand whiting are finally in numbers in most gutters on nearly all beaches.
Live tube worms work best and local anglers have been using small circle hooks to allow the rods to be left in holders and the fish to hook themselves. Owner Red Mutu Light Circles in No 6 have been the choice and they are strong enough to handle a decent salmon.
Finally, a welcome to new employee to Tackle World, Paul Lennon, a Port Stephens fishing guru.Reads: 2532