A sensational time
  |  First Published: December 2012

This is the start of some sensational fishing around Port Stephens and a chance to tangle with some great fish.

The estuary at this time of year is all about early mornings and late afternoons – with good reason. The holidays bring increased traffic on the water with water skiers, jet skis and swimmers sending fish scattering during the day.

Sand whiting hunt the shoreline just on sunrise and are willing to snaffle a live beach or tube worm. I like fishing for them on the beaches close to town such as Corlette, Bagnalls and Shoal Bay.

You will also encounter a few nice dusky flathead in the same locations and soft plastics or brined pilchards slowly rolled across the sand will surely find them.

For those in boats I suggest areas such as Tilligerry Creek, the Karuah River and the entrance to the Myall River. Similar techniques will work, especially around the mangrove-lined flats.

Bream have spread far and wide, taking up residence under oyster racks and around rock walls, and can be tempted by a peeled prawn wafting down a berley trail.

Lure anglers will have a ball tossing surface lures over the racks and watching those bow waves of bream hunting down their offerings.

Jewfish will be lurking through the bay and your best bet will be around the bridges at Karuah or the wreck in Salamander Bay using live bait such as slimy mackerel or yellowtail.

Don’t forget the crab traps, blue swimmers and mud crabs can be found in the feeder creeks.


The beaches are fishing well and sand whiting have moved into most gutters, from Fingal Spit down to Stockton. A rising tide and live worms are the key but don’t cast too far, just past the wash line is perfect.

You will also find a few bream, dart and tarwhine in the same locations.

Tailor will bite early morning and late afternoon, along with a few salmon. The best tactic is to cast a whole brined pilchards into the gutters.

After dark is the domain of the jewfish, which feed on tailor schools that push into the gutters. Early December is my favourite time to chase beach jewies and it can be as simple as fishing the night high tide with fresh tailor fillets on a double-hook rig.

Rock fishing is a good option around Port Stephens with plenty of exposed points which hold bonito, tailor and kingies.

Spin anglers will have fun with metals and surface poppers and sometimes a hoodlum kingfish turns up to make things interesting.

Fishing the washes with bait will work well for snapper with whole unweighted garfish tossed in the wash finding larger fish, especially on the northern side of Boat Harbour and Fishermans Bay.

On calm days chasing squid in the bays is a great option and offers a fantastic feed and quality bait.


Most anglers visit Port Stephens for the offshore fishing, and for good reason.

Seal Rocks and Broughton Island offer some superb snapper fishing with plenty of reef structure that holds fish year round.

Big hoodlum kings also inhabit the same areas at this time of year and slowly trolling live bait on a downrigger is your best chance to bag one.

Some of the deeper reefs such as the Big Gibber, The 23, The Vee and Boulder Bay Wide are good areas to find jewfish and teraglin, especially at night.

With warmer waters circulating over these reefs it’s likely that a few small black marlin will be harassing bait schools, especially towards the end of the month.

The East Australian Current is in full swing over the edge of the continental shelf and those trolling skip baits or skirted lures can find a few striped marlin, along with the odd black and blue.

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