Look forward to holiday Hunter Coast fishing
  |  First Published: December 2016

Early December is a great time to be a local angler in Port Stephens. The town is still relatively quiet with plenty of great fishing to be had. Make the most of this period – by the end of December, the population will have doubled. Thousands of visitors will hit Port Stephens for summer holidays.

If you’re staying here during these peak times and want to get onto quality fish, the trick is to beat the crowds. Fishing super early in the mornings or into the night are a couple of ways to do this. If you have a boat, get up the rivers away from most of the hustle and bustle. Also if you’re visiting Port Stephens and don’t know the area too well, get yourself a marine park map to avoid being caught in a naughty zone.

On the estuary scene, Tilligerry Creek recently reopened to fishing again after being closed for over a year, due to the Williamtown RAAF base contamination. Fisheries recommend not eating flathead caught from the Tilligerry Creek. If you want to take a few flathead for a feed, head around the Karuah River or North Arm Cove.

Those land-based anglers seeking a lizard or two should try flicking plastics on the high tide around Wanda Head, Corlette or Taylors Beach areas. Mulloway will be a big chance for anglers in the bay this month. The break walls to Karuah Bridge are worth a shot.

Whiting are one fish that doesn’t mind the crowds too much and there should be plenty in the shallows around Shoal Bay, Nelson Bay and Jimmys beaches. Live worms are by far the number one bait to catch whiting – they’re often the difference between catching a stack and catching nothing at all.

Both mud crabs and blue swimmers are plentiful right now. Put your traps up the river feeder creeks on a high tide for the muddies, and for blue swimmers try around North Arm Cove, Corlette and Tilligerry. Most of the surf beaches will be holding good whiting right now, it’s just a matter of fishing around the high tide with live worms.

Spinning a 30-50g metal lure or ganged pilchard on day break around Fingal Spit or Box Beach should reap a few tailor as well as the odd salmon, which are still getting around. If you want to have a crack at mulloway, it’s a good time to do it. December always produces a few crackers, particularly along Hawks Nest and Stockton beaches. Fish a gutter on one of these beaches after dark with a live bait or fresh squid and you’ve got a real chance of some silver.

Outside the heads, there’s been some big kings taken recently around Broughton Island as well as out the front of Fingal. Trag have been reported in good numbers around the Gibber, 21 and Vee reefs as well as a few snapper taken in the same areas.

Marlin have turned up in good numbers on the shelf now with most boats getting several bites a day – mainly striped. A few boats have also been successful pushing wider into 500 fathoms targeting blues and have been releasing fish up to 200kg.

Inshore, black marlin are still pretty quiet, but it shouldn’t be long before a few start showing up anywhere from Seal Rocks to out the front of Fingal Lighthouse. The FAD hasn’t been out long, but it already holds good numbers of small dollies between 50-90cm.


It’s been a great start to the mud crab season.


Striped Marlin action will be on the shelf this month.


The author displaying the calibre of flathead that are on offer inside the Port Stephens estuary. Fish this size should always be released back into the system.

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