Over the last couple of reports, I’ve been saying how we are coming into the best time of year to be fishing in Port Stephens. Well here we are now, right smack bang in the middle of it.
April, to me, is without doubt the best month of the year to catch fish here. It’s a real crossover time where the tail end of the season for some fish overlaps with the start of the season for others. My advice is make the most of April and fish as much as you can, especially for species like flathead, whiting, marlin and longtail tuna, as these fish will start to slow by next month.
Inside the bay, the flathead fishing has been great, with the most productive areas being the lower end of the port, from Soldiers Point through to the inside of both headlands. Soft plastics are without a doubt the most popular method for chasing lizards, but if you’re more bait inclined, the old slow rolling of a ganged pilchard along the bottom still works a treat.
Jimmys, Shoal Bay and Nelson Bay beaches all continue to produce quality whiting, with those enjoying best results fishing around the top of the tide using live worms or nippers for bait. It’s coming to the end of the surface fishing season for bream and whiting, but you should be able to pick them up for a while yet, unless we get a sudden drop in water temperature.
The best areas for whiting will be the flats from Tea Gardens through to Pindamar Bay.
For bream, I would be focusing my efforts around the natural and man-made structure from Soldiers Point to the entrance of the Karuah River. If land based and you want to chase bream, it’s hard to beat tossing a few unweighted peeled prawns around the ever-consistent Nelson Bay Marina and adjacent rock walls.
April is usually a cracker month for mulloway in the estuary, particularly in the deeper water around Middle Island and Fame Cove. Putting in the effort to get quality live baits such as slimy mackerel, yakkas or squid is one of the keys to success in these deepwater estuary zones. The Corlette wreck is the most convenient place to find a few livies, as more often then not it will be holding numbers of slimies and yakkas, while Shoal Bay boat moorings are the best bet for a few squid.
The beaches will fish exceptionally well through April, with plenty of whiting still around, and bream beginning to travel along the beaches, as are schools of luderick and mullet. This, in turn, will attract larger predators like mulloway looking to grab an easy meal, so it will be well worth targeting one of these after dark this month.
Off the rocks, it’s prime time for longtail tuna, and also the best chance you’ll have all year of getting connected to a cobia. The Tomaree rock ledge is by far the most popular spot to fish for these species, and for good reason too, however, you will need to get there early if you expect to get a spot!
Offshore and it’s all happening, with striped marlin still in good numbers around the Car Park area, as well as the odd cracker blue out a bit wider. Inshore, and small black marlin to 50kg are worth targeting in 20-40f of water, off the islands, out the front, and all the way up to Seal Rocks.
The 21, Vee and Gibber reefs should all fire this month, with mixed bags of trag, snapper and mowies likely, as well as quality sand flathead around the edges.
Bream will still be active on the surface throughout April.
April is a great month for flathead.
Chris Drake displays a better then average snapper caught from the inshore reefs.Reads: 264