It’s the start of some red-hot game fishing here in Port Stephens. Blue, Black and striped marlin are now abundant along the continental shelf with many boats reporting plenty of shots per day.
The bait schools are the key to finding marlin and a quality sounder can locate both.
Of course, the Car Park is probably the most productive ground but anywhere along the continental shelf is good, just locate the bait and you should be in luck.
Live bait and skip baits will be the best way of attracting bites, especially if you use fluorocarbon leaders like YGK Galis in 130lb, it’s a fantastic leader with a high abrasion resistance for its size.
If bait is hard to find then you could always go back to traditional trolling with skirted lures to cover ground, but remember keep mixing it up and don’t become narrow-minded.
Inshore waters, especially between 40 and 50 fathoms, could also be worthwhile for smaller blacks.
If the water’s right and the bait is there it will be a sure bet the little blacks won’t be far away.
Some switched-on anglers have been fishing the deeper reefs in 40m to 60m with plastics and slow jigs for some top quality snapper and pearl perch. Areas wide of Seal Rocks and the Big Gibber have been productive.
Further south, around Boulder Bay Wide and The Tank mark will also be worth a look.
Now is the time of year when trag and jewfish comb the reefs. Venturing out late afternoon and fishing with live baits at reefs such as The 21 and the Outer V will be a sure bet and you may even come across some nice kingies.
If you’re after a hoodlum king then slowly trolling live baits such as slimy mackerel, bonito and squid around Little Island and the front of Fingal will be your best bet.
In the estuary, flathead are the stand out with many fish well over 70cm being caught and released daily.
Soft plastics are accounting for at least 80% of fish, with my employee Paul Lennon recently scoring six fish over 70cm in a superb session, including one just over 90cm, using the new Sébile Magic Swimmer.
Areas such as Shoal Bay, The Boulders and further up the bay towards Soldiers Point and Karuah are ideal.
The flats in the same areas have been also working well for sand whiting. Live tube worms or pink nippers on fine worm hooks tied to light fluorocarbon leaders will entice those larger fish.
Surface lures will also work well on larger whiting, especially on the turn of the tide.
If you’re keen to chase something bigger then you have two options. Tossing larger surface lures off the breakwall at Nelson Bay will work for kingfish, while live-baiting around Middle Island is ideal for jewfish.
The beaches are definitely on fire now that water temperatures are consistent.
The run of whiting is excellent and should last to at least the end of April. The key is to keep moving from gutter to gutter to find a school feeding.
Be sure to take some live worms but also try Gulp 4” Fat Worms, which are dynamite.
Mulloway have also been consistent but it pays to take fresh bait. The northern beaches around the Little Gibber have seen the majority of mulloway although fishing near the Signa Wreck is always worth a go.
Rock fishing is all about pelagics and as we head towards the end of the month things should improve for land-based game.
At the moment kings can be spun from many of the points including One Mile, Boat Harbour and Sunny Corner. Live bait will account for larger fish so it may be worth the effort to take a kids’ pool and aerator.
Tailor and bonito will join in on the action but can also make it frustrating for those live-baiting.
Snapper will be worth a go, especially after a southerly change when the seas begin to build. The majority of fish have been around 1kg to 3kg with occasional larger fish.
Floating baits are by far the best method and you can’t go past fresh slimy mackerel.Reads: 2960