Strange days indeed
  |  First Published: March 2011

It’s certainly been a strange season as the full impact of the El-Niña pattern and rising sea surface temperatures have an effect.

Some northern species have visited our waters over the past month, including plenty of wahoo and even sailfish – bring it on!

The offshore fishing has been sensational and, typical of this time of year, the reefs are loaded with jewfish and trag.

The Big Gibber to the north has been the most successful for trag with early evening the best time to target them, especially you have live slimy mackerel.

The 21 and The V reefs are prime trag and jewfish spots and you have the bonus of picking up a decent kings and snapper.

A little wider, between 80m and 120m along the gravel, is producing snapper to 4kg plus the odd decent pearl perch.

The washes are always worth a go at this time of year and pelagic action is prime.

The Sisters, just behind Broughton, is a mecca for hoodlum kings. Slowly trolling live slimy mackerel, bonito or squid is the best way of attracting the attention of a large kingfish.

Cobia also frequent this area and the same technique is deadly.

Those who enjoy a late afternoon snapper session will be rewarded. Plenty of reds have been caught on floating baits around the front of Fingal Island and Little Rocky.

Be sure to have a constant berley trail of cubed pilchards going; this is the key to attracting the larger, more wary, fish.


The continental shelf has been fishing well and we have seen all manner of species turn up along the edge.

Wahoo have been the big surprise with some crews coming across patches of half a dozen fish, to have their precious skirted lures destroyed in seconds. A few sailfish have also caught anglers by surprise and every year we tend to see at least one or two caught.

The marlin fishing is now consistent with plenty of bait holding at the Car Park and further north.

Blacks and stripes are now daily catches with most crews electing to slowly troll live baits or skip baits.

If you’re into lure trolling then point your nose east, especially wide of the Newcastle Canyons, where some decent blue marlin are always an option.


Beach and rock fishing is very consistent with plenty of sand whiting on all the beaches.

The edges of the high-tide gutters early morning or late afternoon will almost certainly hold whiting.

After dark is also a definite for jewfish and above-average tailor. Stockton Beach from the huts through to the Signa has been kind, with many anglers scoring jewies up to 12kg and tailor of 1.5kg.

Some flathead have also appeared at places such as Kiddies Corner at Fingal and Box Beach. Pilchards on 4/0 gang hooks slowly rolled just above the bottom are deadly.

The LBG action has gone up a gear with reports of the odd longtail tuna from Tomaree, along with mack tuna and kingies.

To the south at One Mile Point, anglers spinning with larger chrome lures are finding plenty of rat kingies and bonito but be sure to have a live bait out because longtails and the odd cobia often pass this headland.


Fishing inside the Port has been ideal with plenty of larger lizards now lying along the rock walls and sand flats in the lower half of the bay.

Spinning with shallow-running hardbodies near the pine trees at Shoal Bay has proven deadly on flathead early morning and late afternoon.

Similar locations such as Little Beach, Nelson Bay, Dutchies and Corlette are also worthwhile. If you’re visiting the northern side of the Bay be sure to fish Jimmys Beach with the same technique.

It will also be worth taking some live worms because some elbow-slapping sand whiting have been cruising the shallows.

Now is your last chance to get into the surface lure action before it tapers down. Some fantastic kilo-plus bream have been hunting the shallows on the hide tides and a surface lure thrown on top of their heads will surely get smashed.

Plastics along the rock walls from Tahlee to Soldiers Point will also bag a few bream with lighter 1/20oz jig heads and 6lb fluorocarbon the key to getting bites.

Keep an eye on surface because plenty of bonito and the odd longtail speed through the Bay, gorging themselves on the thousands of baitfish that are present from Nelson Bay to Soldiers Point.

Smaller metal lures rigged with single hooks are the best bet, but be sure to patient – it can be frustrating!

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