November is a great time of year to be an angler in Port Stephens. There’s warm weather and loads of good fish to be caught in the estuary, on the beaches, or offshore. Inside the bay, dusky flathead are really starting to turn it on in the back half of the port, with the shallow flats around Tailors Beach, Lemon Tree, Karuah and North Arm Cove all producing numbers. Young champ Jack Hammond has been getting stuck into them over the past few weeks with fish up to 80cm. Soft plastics are accounting for the majority of these fish, with larger sizes from 4-5’’ in natural colours working best.
Mulloway will be another fish that should be prevalent inside the estuary this month. The bridges around Karuah River are well worth putting some time into around the tide changes. Ross Nicol did this earlier in the week, casting a few large paddle-tail plastics around the bridge pylons. He was rewarded with a beautiful 8kg mulloway. Also worth a crack on the mulloway will be the deeper water around Middle Island as well as both the rock walls. Nelson Bay rock wall should also be holding a few kingfish at this time of year. Early morning high tides are the most productive time to catch one.
November also marks the time of year when both bream and whiting start to whack surface lures. It’s about the most exciting form of fishing you’re going to get for either one of these species. The best places to find whiting on the surface will be over the flats inside bays and around the entrances to small feeder creeks, especially on first of the run-out tide. Bream will prefer shallow structure like oyster racks, rock bars and points. Solders Point is a great area to do this as it contains all of the above and is home to some of the biggest bream in the system.
On the ocean beaches, whiting are in good numbers with Stockton, Samurai, Fingal and Hawks Nest beaches all producing plenty for those anglers using live worms and fishing the high tides. Tailor are still an option on dark from the surf at this time of year. After the sun goes down, mulloway are a possibility, particularly along Stockton and Hawks Nest.
Big kings are cruising the shallows, tormenting bait schools around the offshore islands. Live baiting is the best way to hook-up to one. Charter boats are reporting good numbers of trag coming from the 21 and Gibber reefs as well as a few reds to 5kg. Reds will still be a viable option this month using unweighted baits down a berley trail or soft plastics fished late afternoon or early morning. The best areas to try will be Edith Breakers, Broughton Island as well as out the front of Fingal Island.
Sand flathead have been in good numbers straight out the front of the heads on the 40-50m contour lines. Anglers using baited Snapper Snatcher rigs have no trouble getting a feed.
Marlin fishing on the shelf will rapidly improve the further into November we get. If the previous two seasons are anything to go by, we should expect an early hot bite of striped marlin towards the end of the month.
Jack Hammond knows where to find the big flathead.
Chris Drake with an average Stockton beach whiting caught on a live worm.
Ross Nicol with a Solid Karuah River mulloway.Reads: 1011