A quick glance over the weekly reports on the www.fishingmonthly.com.au website confirms my belief that the fishing is about to peak.
Over these few months Port Stephens, and most of the east coast of Australia, sees the annual event of the tropical current being pushed in close to the bank. As this occurs, fish become phenomenally active, feeding on the vast array of baitfish that thrive in these warm currents.
The mighty mulloway seem to be on the move with fish to 24kg landed regularly up and down the coast. On Christmas Eve I saw a 34kg jewfish weighed in at Salamander Bait and Tackle. Unfortunately the massive jew wasn’t taken on line, but speared by some divers.
Local legend Barry the Seagull also landed a nice 20kg jew off Stockton Beach that night. Catching jewfish regularly is quite a demanding form of fishing which some anglers turn into an art form. But around this time of year they aren’t too hard to hook.
To get you on the jewfish trail, start with fresh bait. Forget dead brined or frozen pilchards, they simply won’t work anywhere near as well as the fresh stuff. Fresh slimy mackerel fillets, whole or cut squid, big squid heads, and tailor fillets are all good baits.
Because of the size of the larger specimens, many anglers agree that big rods and lines over 20kg are standard off the rocks. Lighter lines can be used out of boats and off beaches. My jewfish set-up for fishing the rocks includes a custom-built Snyder eight-wrap rod, a six-inch deep-spool Alvey reel and 25kg line – and I get stitched up on this gear quite regularly.
The vital thing you need to know is location. Jewfish cruise up and down the coast in search of food. Under the right conditions they can be caught just about anywhere, so the jewfish ‘hot spots’ aren’t always the best places to start looking.
Try along walls or behind bommies and washes. Sandy holes are also top places to start looking. Experiment with different types of rigs in different locations. For example, fish a bait on the bottom with a standard running sinker rig while fishing on sand and perhaps use a dropper-type set-up while fishing over reef or rocks. Not only will you increase your hook-up rate, you’ll lose a lot less tackle in these situations.
This time of year a likely turn-up while fishing for jew is the snapper. Ever since the water temp bumped up to around 19° in early December, reports have been flooding in of big reds. So this year has already been looking pretty good and things are even likely to improve.
The blue water scene is firing with black marlin in close, striped marlin on the shelf and mahi mahi under every trap buoy or anything floating on the ocean.
Inside the estuary the usual bream, whiting and flathead are all in large portions. I haven’t been fishing inside for a good few weeks but sources tell me that the flathead are well and truly on the chew around Corrie Island, the Karuah River, Tilligerry Creek and the mouth of Mambo Creek. Squidgies have been the preferred lure at the moment. Bream are moving along the rock walls and under oyster leases and whiting are on just about every sand flat between the heads and Karuah.
Kasy from Freddy's Fishing World, Newcastle, is rapidly becoming a jewfish champion. Although fresh bait is usually the go, Kasy exceeds with lures as well.Reads: 2050