The big bream gather around chilly Port Stephens
  |  First Published: May 2013

Although the nights and mornings are chilly, the May days are pleasant and make for some sensational fishing.

This is the start of some excellent bream fishing in Port Stephens. Big, blue-nosed bream school around the rock walls and oyster racks, especially around Soldiers Point, Pindimar Bay and Tea Gardens.

Bait fishing on a rising tide can be deadly, especially if you use a little berley, light fluorocarbon leader and minimal weight attached to your line. Bait selection is easy: A cube of mullet fillet or a peeled endeavour prawn.

Anchor parallel to the rock walls or in between the oyster racks. From the shore, try casting unweighted baits along the structure, especially off the breakwalls at the Anchorage and Nelson Bay.

Slowly working a soft plastic around structure can produce plenty of bream with the chance of getting fish well over a kilo. Use shallow-running hardbodies over the shallower oyster-covered ledges.

The water in the estuary is still relatively warm, meaning that flathead remain willing to feed aggressively. The best option is to cast soft plastics along the shallow weed beds and sand flats in the lower half of the bay from Corlette to Shoal Bay.

Take a few live worms and target sand whiting on the high tide; this will be the last month before they scatter throughout the estuary and become harder to catch.

Blue swimmer crabs are also an option towards Tilligerry Creek and in North Arm Cove. Although this is not a desired month, I have found plenty right through May.


The rock fishing is on fire, especially if you’re a keen land-based game angler. Plenty of longtail tuna, mack tuna and the odd cobia are getting caught from Tomaree but it pays to get there early to beat the crowds and to gather live bait.

Don’t be surprised if you loose a few good fish to sharks; it seems the local whaler population has exploded this year.

Bread-and-butter species such as tailor are also gathered in the washes with early morning raids around Fingal Headland and One Mile Point fruitful, but it pays to fish with fresh bait such as garfish or brined pilchards. Slowly retrieve them through the wash on ganged hooks.

You can also try surface poppers just on dark for some spectacular strikes as big tailor get airborne to grab the lure.

Bream and drummer will be hunting the washes waiting for a peeled endeavour prawn or cunjevoi bait to wash past. Things will only improve as the water cools and these two species hit their straps.

The beaches are fishing well with tailor after dark in the deeper gutters around Fingal Bay, Samurai and Birubi. Whole garfish on 5/0 gangs are the best way to hook them.

Bream are in the same gutters so it pays to fish two rods and cover both species. You will still find sand whiting but be prepared to fish the low light periods with live worms.

May is also the start of excellent snapper fishing as the fish gather in relatively shallow water to feed early morning and late afternoon. There can be glassed-out conditions in the afternoon and there’s nothing better than casting an unweighted bait down a berley trail and watching your rod buckle over as a good red screams off for the reef.

Try areas such as Fishermans Bay, Boat Harbour, Fingal Island and the shallows around Broughton Island.

There is still time to catch some decent kings; live-baiting around the headlands is your best bet. Don’t be surprised if a decent cobia snaffles your bait because some warmer water is still about.

Striped marlin are out on the continental shelf; find the bait and you should find the fish.

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