Winter rocks at Port
  |  First Published: July 2012

The Winter chills don’t affect my fishing habits much; the only thing I do is change my styles to suit the conditions and the species on offer.

Rock fishing would have to be a mainstay of my fishing over Winter and it’s simple to understand why.

Port Stephens has plenty of rocky coastline that probably offers some of the best fishing on the east coast.

Even in ordinary weather you can still find a spot that will offer plenty, in fact some of those big southerly changes that bring 4m swells and driving rain have seen some of my best sessions.

The big swells often push bream, drummer and luderick into sheltered bays and rock pools that fill on the incoming tide. Believe it or not, most fish are feeding just a metre or so underneath the whitewater and it’s as simple as tossing in a lightly weighted peeled prawn and hanging on.

On the flipside, when the offshore westerlies blow, the sea becomes calm and clear. Luderick fishing can be sensational and it’s just a matter of finding a ledge from Fingal Bay to Birubi that’s covered in cabbage weed and you will surely find a luderick or two.

Also take a squid jig because those big southern calamari love cruising these quiet bays.

When it comes to other species, take your pick. Some big snapper cruise the washes and fresh bait such as brined pilchards, garfish or slimy mackerel fillets will surely be eaten. Remember to fish those low light periods and tide changes.

Of course, spinning metal lures from the headlands such as Fingal and Boat Harbour will yield plenty of tailor and salmon plus the odd bonito.


There is some good beach fishing at the moment with plenty of sea-run ‘snowy’ bream holding in most gutters.

Fishing the beach from Birubi to Stockton early mornings is a great way to find bream and it’s just a matter of gutter-hopping until you find fish.

I like using fleshy cut baits such as mullet fillets; if there is a bream in the area then it will snaffle a fresh mullet cube.

Some nice tailor are also working the same beach but make sure you fish at sunrise or sunset for best results. Fingal Spit and the southern end of Box Beach will also be worth trying for tailor this month.


The estuary is fishing well with many shore-based fishers doing well on bream and luderick.

The breakwall at Nelson Bay is a hive of activity as luderick fishers line up daily to nail plenty of fish up to 1.5kg.

Those tossing out lightly weighted baits are getting some good bream.

Shoal Bay is also another luderick hot spot and a session at the old torpedo tubes on a tide change should result in your stem float slipping beneath the surface.

Don’t forget your squid jig because plenty of green-eyes take shelter from predators over the weed flats.

Further up the Bay, plenty of bream are around the various oyster racks and rock walls, with most anglers choosing soft plastics or hardbodies to target them.

With little heavy rain for over a month, plenty of baitfish are pushing up the Bay and tailor, salmon and bonito can be seen smashing into them. Small 5g metal lures or even a fly will do the job on these.


Offshore fishing is typically determined by the weather but when you find a break the snapper fishing should be sensational.

The reefs in 10m-20m are where most anglers will concentrate their efforts in the Winter.

An ideal way to find snapper is to be out there on sunup on the shallow reefs behind Broughton down to Fishermans Bay and floating baits down the berley trail.

When the sun comes up, target the drop-offs with soft plastics and try to keep your jig head as light as possible.

Further offshore, plenty of kings are being caught at Allmark Mountain, with most anglers electing to jig. Fish up to 15kg are not uncommon and it pays to use at least 50lb-80lb braid.

Also keep an eye out for birds and bait because often this area holds yellowfin tuna during Winter.

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