Vintage Port awaits
  |  First Published: December 2003

THE HOLIDAY SEASON is in full swing and as long as you can escape the masses, fish abound.

With large numbers of people using our waterway for many water based activities the smart angler will target the early morning periods.

It has been a bumper year for dusky flathead throughout the Port with many lizard captures from Tomaree to Tilligery. Again, an early-morning run coinciding with a high tide should produce the goods.

Whiting have also made a fantastic appearance throughout the Port and a drift around the popular whiting grounds is a sure bet. These include Salamander Bay, the sand bar in the middle of the Port or west of Soldiers Point. If you’re worried about finding a spot, just join the queue of drifters that appears this time of year in these areas.

Bream are also hanging on oyster racks and rock walls, with the high tide early in the morning most productive. While the boat is on the water, you might as well drop some witches’ hats around the place to catch some crabs. Blue swimmers are being caught right throughout the Port, with most coming from sandy or muddy bottom.


Mahi mahi should be frequenting the offshore fish trap floats, with the predominantly larger specimens caught on live baits and the smaller guys falling to trolled lures.

Some anglers have predicted another good year for the black marlin run. I think this is based on the fact that the last couple of years have been very dull, to say the least. Last year the small blacks seemed to hold up around South West Rocks and not venture farther south. This year may be different. We also hope that the marlin run hasn’t been slowed because of the interruption to bait schools being tapped daily by a fleet of longline vessels that frequents the local bait grounds almost unchecked.

Jewfish have been haunting the reefs, as well as big kingfish. Some snapper have also been falling to fresh baits drifted down a berley trail. Fingal Bay resident fishaholic Stinker recons that this year has produced the most snapper for 20 years or more. It’s good to see the once famous Port Stephens big reds beginning to make a comeback.


The best bet for anglers targeting the ocean rocks is to wait until a big rough comes through and then fish spots like Cemetery Point, Fishermans Bay, Boat Harbour and Fingal Bay for big reds. Otherwise, squid are residing in numbers throughout many of the calm bays.

On the beaches, Stockton, One Mile, Samurai, Fingal, Box, Zenith and Wreck are all producing fantastic numbers of sand whiting. In the evenings large jewfish also patrol the deeper holes and gutters. Live beach worms are the best bait for both species.

So don’t be fazed by the large number of people getting around on our waterway this year – just beat them to the punch, get up early and do your thing. Above all, be patient, especially at boat ramps, and keep careful watch on weather reports and heed all warnings. Have a productive and safe holiday season.

Matt Temperley floated a fresh fish bait down a berley trail to produce this reddy just on sunset north of the heads.

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