Estuaries run hot
  |  First Published: October 2013

If you’re heading to Port Stephens for some estuary fishing, you’re in luck.

With not much rain over the past couple of months, most estuary species are naturally hanging in the upper reaches.

Tilligerry Creek is fishing well for flathead as far up as the tennis courts.

You can fish both tides up the creek.

The incoming is great to fish behind the oyster racks in 2m or less of water, tossing shallow-running hardbodies or plastics.

Some big lizards lie in wait in this shallow water so it pays to fish at least a 12lb fluorocarbon leader to avoid getting rubbed off.

The run-out tide is the time to fish the edges, especially around rock bars and channels. Lizards lie in ambush as the water from the flats brings bait over their heads.

Ripping a soft plastic from the bottom is the way to go and you often find multiple fish in the same spot.

The upper reaches of the Karuah River are also fishing well for flathead and some of the deeper drop-offs are yielding quality jewfish. Most have been taken on plastics or larger vibes, especially on the tide changes.

With the clearer water in the lower half of the bay, bream have also migrated further up. The oyster racks at the entrance of the Karuah River are fishing well and a lot of fish have been taken on the night high tides. Live yabbies drifted under the trays are working well.

As the water warms, especially on the hotter days, bream are becoming active hunting down surface lures, but it pays to fish those low light periods at dawn and dusk.


Beach and rock fishing is standard for this time of year with plenty of salmon and tailor milling around the spit at Fingal and the odd bream in close willing to take a live beach worm.

It's much the same further south around Samurai and Birubi but as the month progresses, I turn my attention to mulloway, especially on a rising tide after dark.

Rock fishing is much the same but spinning off the various points such as One Mile or Fingal will produce a few bonito and rat kings.

If you’re after a feed then hit the washes for bream and drummer or toss a squid jig in for some calamari.

The offshore scene is great with snapper on the inshore reefs, especially up around Edith Breaker, the Big Gibber and the Sisters.

Some switched-on anglers are now targeting snapper with smaller flutter-style jigs with huge success. Unlike traditional jigging, these smaller jigs are slowly and methodically worked just above the bottom.

Of course, bait is still a great option with the larger snapper often being caught just on dark.

Plenty of sand flathead are being caught east of Fingal Lighthouse in 40m-50m with flasher rigs accounting for larger fish.

Wash fishing is great with drummer and bream around Little Island and Fingal Island. Tossing peeled endeavour prawns into the wash is the way to go but be sure you have a locked-up drag because big pigs will stitch you up.

Now is the time to head to the continental shelf to fish the bottom for bar cod or, if you’re really keen, hit the canyons for blue eye, gemfish and the like.

Usually the East Australian Current is at its slowest at this time of year, making it easier to fish the depths.

And if you find a temperature break then it may be worth targeting yellowfin tuna with lures or cubing.

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