Planning well leads to great results
  |  First Published: August 2012

The depths of winter can be tough to fish, weather is always the major factor in deciding when and where to fish. However some simple planning and picking the right target species can always see some red hot action in the cold.

The estuary of Port Stephens can always be challenging especially when those big westerly winds blow. But there is always somewhere protected.

Take Tea Gardens for example. It’s relatively protected and if you drive around the options are endless in the river. Some cracking bream can be caught along the short cut wall on a high tide and floating a few peeled prawns against the oyster lined rocks will surely be snaffled by some stunning bream. Although it’s not prime time for flathead they can still be caught but you have to fish those shallow margins of the tidal flats on a high tide. Flatties will be a bit slower in their feeding habits and I find a live poddy soon turns on any dusky flathead that is out hunting. If you prefer lures then smaller, shallow running hard bodies are the go.

The bay is at its peak at the moment for luderick and anglers are coming far and wide just to tangle with the prolific numbers that turn up along the rock walls. By far the most productive and easy access is the main breakwall that protects D’albora Marina in the bay. Anglers will be lined up every day on the tide changes watching their stem float slide beneath the surface, and with good reason as most are reaching their bag limits with ease.

Beach fishing is sensational with plenty of bream in the gutters along Fingal and Samurai. Before sunrise and after sunset some fantastic tailor to 3kg can be caught in the same locations with brined pilchards on gang hooks the way to go. Stockton Beach is now re-opened to public access after an east coast low and combined high tides eroded most of the beach making it treacherous! However reports suggest that some good gutters have formed with plenty of bream, salmon and tailor are on offer.

Rock fishing is ideal for those typical bread and butter species of winter. Any number of bays from Fingal to Birubi are holding luderick schools and it’s just a matter of picking off some cabbage from the rocks and suspending it under a stem float. Alternatively a bread berley with and a small bobby float will lure luderick plus the by catch of some decent bream and drummer. Speaking of drummer some real crackers are about the washes with fish up to 4kg willing to nail peeled green prawns. Remember don’t give an inch of drag and be prepared to lose a few hooks!

Spinning from the various points such as One Mile and Tomaree is productive for tailor and salmon with the humble metal spinner getting the job done. But for a bit of visual fun why not toss out a surface lure and watch the tailor and salmon smash it all the way to your feet.

Offshore fishing is all about snapper in the shallows. From Seal Rocks to Boat Harbour snapper can be found over the shallow reefs between 5m and 20m. Early morning sessions with a good berley trail and floating baits will be the key to winter snapper and as the sun comes up it will be worth drifting while tossing plastics or dropping a Lucanus jig to the bottom to cover ground. You could also try fishing the washes as snapper are partial to a floating pillie under the suds, even whole green prawns will attract a reddie plus the odd drummer and bream.

Almark Mountain is fishing particularly well for kingies and local charter boat Rush Hour has been finding plenty of decent fish up to 15kg using knife jigs especially the Samaki Hummer jigs between 300-400g. A few tuna schools are starting to show along the shelf and beyond with albacore and the odd yellowfin feeding on the temperature breaks. A few local anglers have also found success on southern bluefin tuna around the canyons from Newcastle to Norah Head.

Overall, winter is a great time to get on the water with plenty of options. Watch the weather and use it to your advantage when you’re on the water.

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