Despite all the rain, east coast lows and plenty of swell, fishing around Port Stephens has been sensational.
When the flood turned the Bay into a chocolate milkshake, numbers of bream made their way downstream, making for some fantastic lure fishing.
Soldiers Point through to the breakwall at Nelson Bay have been the hot spots, especially on the incoming tide as the clearer and warmer water from the ocean turn the fish on.
Plastics such 2” Gulp Shrimp, 3” Minnow Grubs and 80mm Squidgy Wrigglers have been standouts, even in the dirty water.
Those fishing the breakwall have found that 1/12oz jig heads are effective at getting mid-water where the bream are hanging and will often get eaten on the drop.
I have been fishing the rock walls and oyster racks around Pindimar Bay and Soldiers Point, nailing some quality bream over 40cm and losing some that I just can’t stop.
The racks are holding plenty of fish but its Russian roulette trying to pull them away on 6lb leader. Jigheads around 1/40oz are ideal when cast parallel to the rack, allowing the plastic to slowly drift down into the shadows.
Likewise, a shallow-diving floating or suspending hardbody such as the Jackall Chubby 35, Pontoon 21 Crack Jack or a Cranka Shads works well and is ideal for oyster rack fishing.
The rock walls have also been holding plenty of stud bream and can be easier to fish, especially when the westerlies blow. Plastics are perfect lures to present along rock walls and, combined with a 1/16oz or 1/20oz jighead, can be worked methodically. Lighter fluorocarbon leaders of 4lb to 6lb will ensure more bites.
Even though it is Winter some nice flathead are still willing to eat in the shallows. If you have the time then collecting live poddy mullet or herring and casting them along the flats around Tea Gardens, Tilligerry Creek and Karuah will certainly work because lizards can’t resist live bait.
Lure options can include shallow-running hardbodies like the good old Bomber 14A, while DOA Shrimps can be worked slowly to encourage bites.
Luderick fishers are having a ball along Nelson Bay Breakwall, with the last of the incoming tide working best. Cabbage and horsehair weed are by far the most effective baits but at night live yabbies are also just as effective – and you have the chance of landing some good bream.
The western wharf at Little Beach is also another hot spot but can be crowded. The northern side of the Bay is also working well for luderick with the wall at Tea Gardens holding fish to 1.5kg and, if you have a boat, it will be well worth anchoring along the Corrie Island Short Cut wall.
Beach fishing is good when you can find a break in the swell but as August rolls on, the offshore winds can make it perfect. Some nice tailor can be found along Fingal Beach just north of the surf club, with one angler landing a fantastic greenback of almost 4kg, a healthy specimen for Port Stephens.
Casting unweighted pilchards into the gutters just on sunrise is your best bet but dusk is just as good. It will also be worth trying the southern end of Box Beach, which is often well protected from the offshore winds.
Of course there are plenty of salmon and they sure are Winter blues beaters and great sport on light spin tackle. Duel Adagios from 65mm to 105mm are salmon candy and cast an absolute mile.
The fly rod is also a good option, especially when the swell is low. It’s just a matter of spotting a school of salmon in a gutter, wading in knee-deep and shooting a No 6 Surf Candy just in front of the school.
Bream can be still caught along the beaches with One Mile and Samurai producing fish to a kilo. Some switched-on local anglers are using live nippers pumped from the Bay and occasionally picking up the odd whiting while targeting the bream.
From the rocks it’s a matter of picking your species. Early mornings are great for spinning up tailor and salmon with One Mile Point and Boat Harbour producing numbers and quality.
Floating cunjevoi, peeled green prawns or fresh bread will connect you to a rampaging drummer or bream. The washes around Boulder Bay are among the better locations – now that the sewage treatment plant has been extended it means an extra walk, which often puts people off.
Fishermans Bay through to Anna Bay is another piggy area with some real brutes up to 4kg caught there recently.
High tide in the middle of the day makes for some great luderick sessions. Barry Park at Fingal Bay has been loaded with some big bronzies with stronger hooks often needed. The Black Magic G10 or Daiichi 2171 are strong and chemically sharpened.
In the flat conditions of August it’s also time to target groper. A tussle with a big blue groper can stretch anglers and tackle to the limit.
You can often see larger fish swimming in shallow bays and they can be enticed with a crab or fresh cunjevoi. Smaller specimens around 2kg to 4kg are great eating, but remember the bag limits and let the big ones go.
It’s snapper time and if June and July were anything to go by then August should be a ripper. Plastics are again dominating the snapper scene and rightly so, as they’re often easier to use than bait.
Plenty of good fish have been landed or lost early morning around the shallows of the Sisters at the back of Broughton Island, while further south around the bommies at Fishermans Bay it’s the same.
It’s a good idea to fish slightly deeper as the sun gets higher with a lot of anglers switching to octopus-style jigs or vibes such as the Sébile Flatt Shad.
The 21 Reef is a good option at lunchtime and can often surprise anglers with good catches of reds and kingies but beware, the leatherjacket brigade can be fierce.
If you want to stick in close around the islands then my suggestion is to float some pilchards in the washes.
The front of Fingal Island has plenty of areas that hold good snapper and a floating pilchard is always on their menu. Some good kilo-plus tailor will also join in on the action and they are great freshly smoked.
Throwing cubes of pilchards into the north-eastern side of Little Island is a great way to get a feed of bream through August.
Some nice tuna have been caught offshore but with limited windows of opportunity it pays to look at the sea surface temps before you venture out. The local longliners have found some good yellowfin and bigeye around 5NM to 10NM over the continental shelf. For daily reports call me on 4984 2144 or visit www.tackleworldps.com.au