Summer is here and the combination of hotter days and warmer water will bring a range of new fishing options to anglers in Port Stephens. Marlin and mahimahi will become more available, whiting numbers will spike on the surf beaches, and the surface bite will start to fire inside the estuary.
The only bad news is the recent announcement of an eight-month ban on fishing in the upper Tilligerry creek area while a human health risk assessment is done. Fire fighting chemicals formally used at the RAAF base were found in some surface and ground water as well as in small numbers of fish.
In the estuary there have been plenty of whiting around with live worms doing the damage around Shoal Bay and Jimmys beach. Surface poppers have been effective along the flats near Pindimar, Taylors Beach, and Soldiers Point. Bream will be smacking surface lures this month especially around the structure spread between Soldiers Point to Garden Island and from the Short Cut Rock bar through to the Tea Gardens Bridge. If you’re targeting flathead, the back half of the bay from Soldiers Point up to the Karuah River will be your best bet with 100-120mm hardbodied or soft plastic lures the most effective method by far. Kingfish are another big fish estuary option at the moment, especially along the Nelson Bay Rock wall where kings to an impressive 15kg have been hooked of late. 30lb gear should be a minimum when fishing the wall for kings with 50lb sometimes still not enough to stop the larger models.
Live squid is no doubt the best bait to target them, but they will also hit plastics or stick bait when they are in the mood – which is usually around an early morning tide change.
The mulloway fishing in the bay has been exceptional over the past couple of months and shows no signs of slowing down just yet. If you want to target them on lures try working 100mm soft vibes around the Karuah Bridges or Corlette wreck. If you’re going to fish live baits or fresh squid these same areas will also produce as well as the deeper drop offs and holes around Soldiers Point.
December is probably the best month of the year to get stuck into some tasty sand whiting off the surf beaches with Fingal, Samurai, and Stockton all producing good fish. Time of day is not critical for whiting on the surf beaches; rather the key to success is the combination of live worms, high tide, and a nice looking gutter. Beach mulloway are also a great target this month. I like to time a high tide around 6 o’clock so I can chase a few whiting before dark, then throw a few metals around for a tailor as the sun sets, and finally stick around for an hour after dark for a chance at a mulloway!
Offshore, the trag have been thick on the Gibber, V, 21 and Uralla reefs with late afternoon and night outings the best time to target them. The FAD has been holding plenty of mahimahi, however they tend to get pretty clued into what’s going on after several boats extract a few of their mates, so get there early for your best shot.
The marlin season has kicked into gear with good numbers of fish reported on the edge of the shelf, which is a good sign of things to come, and the fishing is only going to get better over the next few months.Reads: 415