Key to a flathead belly
  |  First Published: December 2016

There’s no shortage of flathead in Port Stephens this time of year, especially around areas such as North Arm Cove, Corlette Groins, Pindimar, Jimmys Beach and Shoal Bay. Soft plastic fishing is by far the best technique for catching numbers of flathead. An old fashioned slow rolled ganged pilchard will also do the trick.

Whiting are thick with live worms or nippers proving deadly when fished on the high tide along Little Beach, Nelson Bay Beach and Dutchies Beach.Whiting are also keen to whack surface lures further up the system around flats between Soldiers Point and the mouth of the Karuah River as well as Pindimar through to the Myall.

Solid kings to 15kg are still frequenting the Nelson Bay Rockwall and Marina – early morning high tides are prime time to get connected to one. If you’re after a mulloway, try fishing the tide change in at least 20m of water off Soldiers Point through to North Arm Cove with a live bait or fresh squid.

Squid are hanging around the moorings in Shoal Bay as well as over the weed beds along Jimmys Beach. Squid jigs in 2.5 size will work best in the estuary, especially in early morning and late afternoons. Crabs are on with great catches of blue swimmers reported up Tilligerry Creek, North Arm Cove and Tahlee. Muddies have also been in good numbers in the tributary creeks of Karuah, Tilligerry and the Myall.

On beaches, whiting are definitely the major target this time of year with just about any ocean beach between Stockton and Hawks Nest holding them. The most important ingredient in catching a few is live worms followed closely by fishing the gutters at the right time, which is usually around the high tide. Mulloway are a real possibility this month if you stick around after dark and fish a gutter with a live bait or fresh squid, especially down the southern end of Stockton Beach or around Samurai.

Tailor are active around Fingal Spit and Box Beach on first and last light for those anglers who like spinning whole pilchards and garfish or 20-40g metals. The rocks are pretty quiet this month, however, you should be able to spin up a few bonito and tailor and maybe a king. Drummer, bream and grouper are around the wash too. You’ll have to work a bit harder for them. Squid are holding in the sheltered bays around Fingal through to Boulder with 3.0 sized jigs working best.

Offshore charter boats have been reporting mulloway catches from the wider reefs off Broughton Island and plenty of trag from the 21, Vee and Gibber reefs. Kingfish from rats to 25kg unstoppables have been terrorizing baitfish schools over the shallow reefs around Fingal Island, Little Island and Broughton. Live baiting is by far the most effective way to target a kingie. Stickbaits cast in early morning before the sun comes up are an awesome way to catch them and create epic surface strikes.

Out wider, the FAD is proving again to be an easy way to get a feed. Schools of smaller dollies to 5kg have been holding on it. Marlin fishing on the shelf has heated up with boats now averaging two or three bites a day. Boats are having the most success by skip baiting and dropping live baits down on any potential marlin and tight bait schools marked on the sounder.

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