Hopefully Santa got you that much needed fishing gift you were after, and with the holiday season in full swing there’s no better time to get out and use it. There are plenty of fishing options in the Port Macquarie area, but first here are some things to consider.
Set the alarm and actually get up and go while everyone else is still snoring. It’s very important at this time of year, as you can be on the water at daybreak, beat the boat traffic, and be home enjoying a late breakfast before the holiday crowd gets into gear. This can make a huge difference to results and your enjoyment, plus you then get to do all those holiday things with the family.
We all know living on the coast in summer means nor’ easters, and they usually get into full swing from around 11.00am. While these make for pleasant afternoons on the balcony of your accommodation, it can wreak havoc with fishermen and especially the offshore crew. If you are new to the area, remember the Hasting River has a bar that can be treacherous on a runout tide, especially with a nor’ east wind blowing, so check the tides before heading out.
The fishing in Port Macquarie is as good and as varied as you like at this time of year, so why not enjoy the tasty blue swimmer crabs that are sensational at present (and have been for most of this past year for that matter). For bait, using the frames of fish you caught yesterday seems to work okay; otherwise a few mullet from the local tackle store will suffice.
Places to drop them would be the southern banks from Hibbard Ferry upstream. The mouth of the Maria River near Blackmans Point is a great spot if you want to pump some nippers with the intention of getting some whiting while the traps are soaking. Remember to keep to the fishing regulations and also keep your eyes on the traps so only you get to enjoy your crabs.
If you fancy some prawning fun, then south of Port we have Lake Cathie, and in January the prawns should be of a great size. If scooping with a dip net, then the eastern side of bridge should produce a feed, but if dragging a prawn net, the boat ramp and the Perch Hole are two spots worthy of attention. It would be remiss of me not to mention local prawn net maker Jason, at Ned Kelly’s Bait and Tackle. To say I’m very happy with the net I had made is an understatement. Bringing in 6kg on its first drag, I was home and eating them before 9.00pm!
For all things scaley, we have some absolutely great fishing at this time of year, but again consider getting up early and beating the crowd, as being the first to throw into a snag for a bass or bream is going to increase your chances tenfold. Similarly, getting a couple of quiet hours down the front on the sand flats of Pelican Island could be the difference between a bag of whiting, flatties and bream, because once the jet skis start it is time to leave.
If you like a feed of flathead, a soft plastic lure is going to put you amongst a few. If casting from a boat, there are plenty of options as most of the Hastings River’s banks hold a certain amount of flatties. If fishing from the shore, wading Pelican Island or a short passenger trip on the Settlement Point Ferry to the north side and fishing the banks there should produce a feed.
For the bait fishos, a neat strip bait on tiny ganged hooks will produce while drifting. Places to try are the banks near Pelican Island, the southern banks up from Hibbard Ferry, and don’t forget the northern banks in front of Limeburners Creek and Big Bay. You can drift from there all the way up to the ferry. Mix it up with a strip bait and maybe some live pink nippers and you’ll get yourself a good bag.
As mentioned, flatties are in abundance, but the other fish to target this month will be bream, bass and whiting. All respond to hard-bodied lures, and using surface lures is great fun and makes the fishing very visual. Try your luck around broken sand and weed bottoms for whiting and bream with small poppers or a walk-the-dog style lures.
The bassing at Wilson River or further up the Maria is now in full swing, so if you can hear the cicadas, grab a fizzer, walker or popper and hit the snags. Bream are also an option. If the fish aren’t responding to your efforts, try a shallow running diver, as these can often be the trigger.
Surf fishing can be great in January, with beachworms being the favoured bait. Try the northern end of Lighthouse Beach of an evening on a rising tide, as you can get whiting, bream and school mulloway here on a pretty regular basis. Another spot worth looking at is North Beach, as you’re always a chance of a mulloway there on worms, but whiting and bream will more than likely figure in your catch.
Go early to beat the nor’ easter and there’s some great fishing to be had. Snapper, pearlies and kingfish will hopefully make an appearance wide of Plomer to the north of Port, and the ever-popular southern grounds from the lighthouse to Cathie will be worth a look. These grounds are very good and give up some very nice reds each year. Try water depths from 20-60m and you could encounter that snapper of a lifetime.
For the guys that like to get a feed of sand flathead, try the grounds from the north wall up to Plomer Bay; this usually makes for an easy feed.
In finishing my first report, I would like to say it’s great to be on board such an informative magazine. Guys and girls, if you catch a fish and would like to share it with the world, then get in touch via email, as I love to see fish caught in our local area. I will try to disseminate some more information on how we catch these great fish in the coming months, so enjoy the rest of the holiday season and stay safe on the water.
Dave Wells spends a lot of time kayaking the Hastings. This is not his first metre flattie either!
The tale of the tape. So metre flathead are a possibility.
Young Dane Corbin looks more than happy about the great run of blue swimmers in the Hastings River at present.
James Jackson with his PB bass of 50cm, taken on a spinnerbait.
Even the author got into the bass action. The local fish just love spinnerbaits.Reads: 960