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Rain revs up the catches
  |  First Published: October 2011



After we received almost record Winter rainfall, the Spring fishing is benefiting enormously already.

The estuary has benefited the most and flathead seem to have flourished and are eager to pounce on lures and baits.

I like to concentrate my efforts on the flats and rock walls. If you look around the Port, these two areas stand out, from Shoal Bay to Jimmys Beach to the back half of the bay around Tilligerry Creek and Shoal Bay. Concentrate around Tilligerry and Shoalie for better results.

Fishing the flats is best done early morning on a high tide before boat traffic and the sun send the fish into deeper water.

Offerings can be as simple as whitebait pinned to a small gang of No 1 hooks slowly rolled just above the bottom.

Hardbodies and soft plastics go well.

The change of tide around low is the ideal time to target rock walls. This domain is best suited to soft plastics because they can be easily weighted to suit the conditions.

Bream are pushing further upstream and their feeding habits will change to include a more aggressive approach, especially to critters on the surface.

I always look forward to tossing a surface lure across the oyster racks and shallow rock walls around Soldiers Point, Pindimar and Oyster Cove in anticipation of seeing that telltale bow wave and that characteristic slurping sound of a bream trying to suck down your surface lure.

You can still catch them on other lures and bait and I still remember as a kid tossing unweighted nippers along the racks and getting stitched almost instantly.

There are also some good sand whiting on the sand and weed patches along Shoal Bay and Jimmys and Bagnalls beaches.

You can’t go past a live tube worm on a No 6 long-shank, chemically sharpened hook. Be sure to use minimal weight; the better-presented your bait, the better quality fish you will encounter.

Kingfish and Bonito can be found zooming about the breakwall at Nelson Bay, and your best bet is to toss a live squid or surface popper. As Spring rolls on, these fish will become more prolific.

It’s a great time to hit the beaches and when daylight saving begins, I will head down Birubi Beach in search of a jewfish. A rising tide a couple hours after dark, a reasonable deep gutter with whitewater either side and fresh bait such as tailor fillets and squid, and I’ll be in with a better than even chance.

A good starting point is around 10km south of Birubi. You can also try the northern beaches; the Little Gibber always sees some cracker jewies every year.

If you plan to hit the rocks you will find much the same as over the past couple of months. Luderick can still be caught in good numbers but will start to taper soon.

Drummer and bream are always an option on floating baits with Fishermans Bay and Boat Harbour offering plenty of likely ground.

Spin fishers can rejoice as tailor, bonito and kings will be eager to smash metal lures and stickbaits. I have tried the new Shimano Wax Wing and it has proven a winner with bonito and I’m sure will work on other species.

OFFSHORE

Offshore fishing is sensational and it has been one of the most productive snapper seasons on record, with some real thumpers about.

Staff member Paul Lennon phoned ne one night to meet at the boat ramp to get a few photos of a red he had just landed on a whole slimy mackerel.

Now for Paul to call to get a photo is a big thing, so I knew it must have been a decent fish. It was a monster of 11.8kg and a once-in-a-lifetime capture he will never forget.

Some great fish from 2kg to 6kg are up and down the coast, from Seal Rocks to Fishermans Bay.

A berley trail of pilchards and unweighted baits will give you a better than even chance but for fun, get out the plastics and the ever-popular octopus-style jigs – both are deadly.

Downrigging with live squid and slimy mackerel around the islands is a great way to get the attention of a decent king.

Although not prime time, we do see some exceptional fish over 10kg caught around Fingal Island and Big Rocky.

If you can manage to find a temperature break along the continental shelf, get a steady cube trail going for a yellowfin tuna. Some fish have been caught on lures but you will find that a little berley will attract those larger, more cautious fish.

Lastly, I’d like to Welcome Rohan Soulsby from Castaway Estuary Charters to Tackle World Port Stephens. Rohan will be in the store in between charters and offers a wealth of knowledge, especially on estuary lure fishing.

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