March is the best time of the year to be fishing at Port Stephens, with just about everything on the chew.
By the time this goes to print, the 2 major game fishing tournaments held each year out of Port Stephens — the Cabo-Hatteras Billfish Shootout and the NSW Interclub, will have both been run and won. That doesn’t mean that the marlin fishing is going to slow down at all; in fact, it should only get better through March both inshore and on the shelf.
March should also spark the start of the land based game season, as longtail tuna as well as the odd trophy cobia begin showing up along the major headlands from Seal Rocks through to Sunny Corner.
Hopefully, like the last couple of years, the longtails will also push up into the estuary system, potentially popping up anywhere between Shoal Bay and Salamander Shores Jetty. If you’re in the right place at the right time and they bust up within casting range, a 40-65g metal or medium sized stickbait shouldn’t get rejected. This is why it pays to have a rod always rigged up ready to throw, as these finned torpedoes have a habit of appearing just when you don’t expect them, and then disappearing again very quickly.
Kingfish continue to loiter in decent numbers along the Nelson Bay rock wall, although they have been quite cunning and tough to trick of late. Your best chance is to focus effort around early morning high tide changes and spend an hour before light trying to get a few live squid. You shouldn’t have too much trouble catching a few around Shoal Bay moorings, along Little Beach, or even inside the marina.
Mulloway are also worth targeting around the rock walls at the moment, and again high tides and fresh squid are your best chance of connecting with one, while some will argue that low tide is just as productive.
The deeper channels between West Bank and Fame Cove are good places to find mulloway at this time of year, with some real beasts pushing the 30kg mark already taken over the last month.
Dusky flathead should be plentiful through the lower end of the estuary, with Corlette all the way through to the inside of Yacaaba Head worth investigating. The water is very clear at the moment, and when it’s like this I use natural coloured plastics around 100mm in length, with my personal favourite being a Sebile Magic Swimmer.
Trag have been plentiful over the Gibber, 21 and V reefs, with charter boat operators reporting quality fish in good numbers, as well as a few snapper and morwong.
Snapper have also been consistently good around Edith Breakers, with those having the best success being anglers making the effort to do the big run up in the dark, ready to start fishing before daybreak.
Alternatively, if you don’t have the range to fish Edith, try the shallow reefs in 10-20m of water around Broughton Island, which have also been fishing well for reds at dawn and dusk.
There are stacks of mahimahi around the trap floats and FAD, with the first boat there using live baits the key to getting the better quality fish.
It’s shaping up to be a ripper LBG season, as there is plenty of bait holding around the ledges, with bonito and tailor being spun up amongst it all. This is a great sign and it shouldn’t be long before the larger pelagic species like longtail tuna and cobia turn up.
Marlin should be about in good numbers this month, both inshore and along the shelf.
Peter Raymond displays a solid Nelson Bay rock wall mulloway.
March should see the arrival of plenty of longtail tuna along the coast.Reads: 825