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Expect the unexpected
  |  First Published: March 2013



It’s time to expect the unexpected around Port Stephens. The warm current has swung in close to shore and has brought small black marlin, wahoo and cobia.

It’s been an extraordinary run of black marlin just a few hundred metres from the close islands and craft from large game boats to small tinnies have been in on the action.

It’s just a matter of finding the bait schools and there are the fish. Smaller skirted lures such as the Billmark Destroyer or Zacatak Roach have been doing the damage, especially rigged with lighter gauge single hooks.

Live-baiting is also successful but I can’t stress enough the use of circle hooks, especially if we want to preserve billfish stocks.

The continental shelf has started to fire with blacks, blues and striped marlin all on the inside of the edge. The strong current that slowed the fishing early has slowed, allowing the bait schools to hold and the marlin to feast on them.

The ever-popular Carpark has had its fair share of fish but it pays to look around to find your own bait and fish.

Cobia have been caught in among the bommies and wash zones from Broughton Island to Fishermans Bay.

I suggest slowly trolling live slimy mackerel, one on a flatline and another on a downrigger. Fluorocarbon leaders will also help, especially if the fish are shy.

For bottom fishing, head north to the Big Gibber and even wider to 50 fathoms. Some terrific Snapper are being caught, on flasher rigs spiced with pilchard halves.

You can expect some different species from the deeper reefs at this time of year, such as a few tasty pearl perch.

Sand flathead are always on the cards but it pays to move around from 40m-50m to find the quality fish.

With the warm water pushing in close, a few anglers are starting to fish the rocks in anticipation of an early longtail tuna or cobia. Already a few cobes have hit the stones along with the odd mack tuna.

Towards the end of the month things will improve and the longtails will show in numbers.

You can always have some fun spinning with light tackle for the hordes of bonito zooming around the washes from Fingal Head to One Mile Point. Metal slugs of 20g-40g are the go but you could always try a popper.

BEACH WHITING

Sand whiting are dominating the beach fishing scene. Arm yourself with a few live beach worms, a light 9’-10’ rod and some No 6-No 4 long-shank hooks and head out.

You don’t have to travel far, just fish early or late before the swimmers and surfers disturb things.

Fingal Spit is always a favourite and offers protection in almost any wind. If you own a 4WD your options are endless when you fish from Birubi to Stockton.

ESTUARY FLUSH

The estuary has had a good flush of rain, which can only be a good thing sliding into Autumn.

Flathead have moved down into the lower half of the Bay and are occupying just about every sandy beach from Soldiers Point to Shoal Bay.

Land-based anglers are enjoying tossing soft plastics, especially the new Ecooda Live Shrimp, which proving to be a big hit with the flathead population.

It will be also worth fishing the edges of the deeper rock walls and drop-offs to find those bigger crocs. I like tossing larger plastics to encourage the bigger fish and the new Squidgy Wriggler 160mm is a standout.

Many of the rock walls are holding good numbers of bream. Bait fishers will do well on a rising tide with a berley trail and unweighted cut baits drifted back, especially mullet fillets or pillie cubes.

Lure casters are doing well on shallow-running hardbodies cast hard up against the structure and slowly rolled back across the oyster-encrusted rocks. Soft plastics worked methodically around deeper weed edges will also be pounced on.

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