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Fish have more breathing room
  |  First Published: February 2017



February in Port Stephens is a fisher’s paradise, with a huge range of species to target. The crowds have thinned out from the previous two months, giving both anglers and fish a bit more breathing room.

Estuary

So far this year we’ve had a great whiting season and this is set to continue, with plenty still being caught. The two best areas to catch them inside Port Stephens are Shoal Bay and Jimmys Beach at high tide, using live worms or nippers. Surface lures fished over the shallow flats from Pindimar Bay all the way through to the mouth of the Karuah River will also be effective on whiting this month.

There are plenty of bream around the Soldiers Point area at the moment that are keen to hit surface lures, small hardbodies and lightly weighted plastics as well. Dusky flathead are prevalent through the lower section of the bay with North Arm Cove, Taylors Beach, Corlette Groins, Wanda Head and Tea Gardens being a few of the better places to find a bite. There have been some absolute crackers caught this year, with a few fish well over the 90cm mark, pushing towards the magic metre. It’s a real shame to hear of some anglers choosing not to release the big girls, as these fish are extremely valuable to the fishery.

Mulloway have been hanging around the usual night time haunts, like the Corlette Wreck and both breakwalls. These are best fished around the change of tide, with lightly weighted fresh squid as live baits. A few anglers have also been picking up some nice fish by flicking soft vibes around the wreck and bridges on the tide changes. This is proving to be a great technique here. Another option during the day is to target mulloway from the deep water behind Middle Island, with tide changes again critical to success.

Beaches

Whiting are still the flavour of the month from the ocean beaches, with just about all of them holding quality whiting. The most important thing is to find a nice looking gutter and fish it with live worms on the incoming tide, preferably late in the afternoon or early in the morning. If you fish this way you should also pick up a bit of welcome by-catch in the way of a few bream and dart, and the occasional flathead. Stonking big mulloway are also a possibility after dark on the surf beaches at this time of year, with live baits or fresh squid being the best way to go about hooking one.

Off the rocks

Dust off the LBG gear because if we’re lucky we may see an early run of longtail tuna towards the end of the month. In the meantime there should be plenty of bonito to spin up around the points and headlands, as well as a few tailor and the occasional salmon still poking around.

Offshore

There have been a few snapper around, with anglers doing well throwing plastics around Edith Breaker on first and last light. Broughton Island has also been producing good reds in the early morning and late afternoon on both plastics and unweighted baits.

On the marlin scene, a few small blacks have started to show up in close. The best method to find them is to slow troll live baits around the bait schools, especially on the tide changes. Stripes and a few blues have also been doing their thing on the shelf, which is great to hear with the Billfish Shootout and inter-club gamefishing tournaments fast approaching.

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