Although we have seen some ordinary weather over the past couple of months, fishing still remains good around Port Stephens. In fact, even though the water has been green inshore, it is still warm with plenty of bait.
The inshore reefs are full of life, with plenty of bait including schools of slimy mackerel and pilchards, with all manner of predators feasting on them.
Small black marlin (and I mean small) have been gorging themselves since the middle of January and have not stopped. Find the bait and you will find the fish.
It also pays to downsize everything, including your line, leaders, hooks and even lures. Most fish are 15kg-30kg so smaller 6/0-7/0 circle hooks, 80lb fluorocarbon leaders or 4”-6” skirted lures are the go.
You don’t have to travel far, just a mile or two outside the islands and you should still find the fish.
The baitfish haves also encouraged other fish to bite with some extraordinary captures of snapper around Broughton Island. Anchoring just on dusk with a steady berley trail seems the best method. Be sure to use unweighted baits.
Kings are also in the same vicinity with fish above 15kg testing anglers and their tackle. Live-baiting with fluorocarbon leaders is the most productive but if you’re game, tossing stickbaits over the shallows is a great way to tease a fish towards the boat.
The Big Gibber is producing plenty of teraglin after dark and during the day on the tide changes. Try fishing the side of the reef and use smaller pencil-sized slimy mackerel baits.
Keeping a live bait out under a balloon is a must because small black marlin or even a cobia will jump on at this time of year.
Trolling the washes is a good idea; plenty of bonito and the odd decent tailor will jump onto smaller skirted lures or even deeper-running minnows once the sun comes up.
The much-anticipated LBG action has started to hot up with the odd longtail tuna being caught from Tomaree. Mack Tuna and bonito are in plagues and can frustrate those using live bait.
It will be worth pinning a smaller bonito through the back to avoid the unwanted species and to target a cobia. Water temperatures suggest that this season we should see a few cobes swim past, making exciting times for rock anglers.
April is one of the better months for fishing in Port Stephens.
Bream congregate for their annual migration, schooling up along rock walls and oyster racks throughout the bay.
Most lure fishers are doing well slow-rolling hardbodies on light fluorocarbon leaders, or even straight-through fluorocarbon.
Plastics are also working well, especially along the rock walls; be sure to use light leaders of around 4lb for best results.
Bait fishers will do better on a rising tide using cut mullet fillets or mullet gut drifted unweighted down a berley trail. There are plenty of areas throughout the bay but concentrate your efforts around Pindimar Bay, Soldiers Point and the entrance to the Myall River.
Big flathead are active this time of year, lying in deeper water in the lower half of the estuary.
Soft plastics of 100mm and up will attract the bigger fish. Bouncing them off the edges of the rock walls is probably the most productive tactic.
Be sure to take a photo and release the bigger fish. Keep only those smaller 40cm-60cm fish for a feed.Reads: 624