Big jewies go AWOL
  |  First Published: May 2006

It’s just about over in Port Stephens and up to date it really hasn’t come up to expectations – the jewfish season I’m talking about.

Surprisingly, the thumper jewies over 30kg that were reported to me by divers in the shallows around Rocky Point didn’t turn up in Fingal Bay, which is their next stop north. This year I was particularly excited because the divers’ reports were quite astounding with giant fish to a mythical 40kg lounging in schools of 20 fish and more in the shade of the headlands along with smaller fish to 30kg in schools of 40.

In past years sightings of jewfish by divers down south have proven to be very accurate. This season for some reason the schools may have swum wider or they simply slipped through on me while I was having a short holiday at Tweed Heads.

All is not lost, there is still time with the full moon popping up on May 13 providing the last real chance to nail that monster that you have been dreaming about for years. I believe that a week either side of the full moon is your best chance to catch the jew but I’m never surprised to catch one any time now, regardless of where the moon is.

Apart from Fingal Bay, Middle Island off Soldiers Point is recognised locally as a home for monster jewfish. This season the fish have averaged around 17kg with a few crackers over 25kg.The game plan is to locate the deep holes, prepare yourself with live bait and wait for the tidal rush to settle, then just stick at it.

If you asked me when the flathead season was in Port Stephens I’m afraid I couldn’t tell you because we seem to catch cracker lizards year round. Currently the flathead have gathered towards the back of the port in the feeder streams and tributaries that wind through the mangrove forests in the west harbour.

Bait for flathead seems to be a thing of the past with everyone tossing plastics. Bream are also barrelling the plastics as they wriggle past the oyster racks. I really think it’s time for me to join the plastic revolution.


Last week I found my favourite fishing shorts in the freezer. On inquiring as to why my pants were in the freezer, my daughter replied that one pocket was full of pilchards and the other was full of prawns. So rather than put the pants in the washing machine she thought it wise to drop them in the freezer – bring on the plastics!

With school holidays in full swing the kids are out in force chasing anything that wriggles. Port Stephens is a very user-friendly fishing destination for kids because it offers top fishing spots that are safe.

Local champ Joe Murray, pictured hereabouts with his best flathead yet, concentrates his efforts in the still waters around Soldiers Point. Other flathead hot spots at this time of year include Tilligerry Creek and the Karuah River.

The success of rock fishing from Fingal to Birubi relates directly to the size and direction of the sea, which isn’t rocket science, but it has become increasingly obvious that the rule of thumb for snapper fishing off the rocks is ‘little sea, little snapper; big sea, big snapper’. You could also add ‘big sea, big risk’.

May is the last of the friendly months in Port Stephens. Just around the corner is the misery of Winter. Let’s finish on a bright note: The fishing right now is great so if you are contemplating a weekend or holiday on the coast, Port Stephens is the place to be.

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