Now’s the time
  |  First Published: March 2003

Before every article I write I generally have a discussion with different people around the Port as to how the fishing is and how it’s going to be, based on previous years’ recreational and professional fishing.

We talk about water colour and temperature, seasons, times, tides and the good old days. My being not very old, many of these characters often recollect times when the fishing was ‘a hell of a lot better than it is now’ but one thing these experts and I all agree is – If you can’t catch a fish in March or April then you’re not going to!

This has to be the best time to go fishing. Port Stephens is an unusual place. I’ve heard it referred to as the ‘cross over’ of the warm and cool currents, and for the next few months we are well and truly into the warm current part of the year. The magnificent lukewarm blue currents that pour past our coast at this time of year bring all sorts of game species such as marlin, tuna, kingfish, cobia as well as a host of other valuable recreational non-game species.

As well as talking to the guys around the port to find out what’s happening, I often go for a drive and visit the local boat ramp and hot spots. Its great to see an increasing number of anglers practising catch and release, and the ones that don’t mostly only keep what they need. I love striking up conversations with fellow anglers because you not only get to find out where the fish are for yourself, the knowledge that can be shared can be invaluable.

This month the flathead are going to be lying in wait around the sand and mud drop-offs and the edges of the weed beds. As with flathead all around Australia, they love to eat small pilchards.

Brent Hancock is a really making a name for himself catching, among other things, flathead on fly but he gave up his fly rod for an ugly big bait rod and sat on Dutchies Beach for an hour to winch in a 4kg fish. The next day a mate took him fishing for marlin – no marlin but as he was drifting a live bait in 50 metres of water a 5kg snapper decided it wanted his marlin bait. Seems if there’s a fish there, Brent will catch it.

Bream are also on the chew this time of year, hiding in rock bars and under oyster racks throughout the port. Lures seem to be the go with casters bagging a vast majority of the fish. If you’ve ever been fazed by lure fishing for bream, call into Salamander bait and tackle and talk to Duffy. Even he can catch ’em.

Outside the start of the marlin season has been very poor with only a few captures. A few dolphin fish have been caught on the outer traps with the larger ones falling to slow-trolled live baits.

A few snapper, kingfish and trag have been reported on the outer reefs and, as the season progresses, we should see a shift of these species to the inshore reefs.


Wayne Coles caught this beautiful mahi mahi trolling a live bait behind the traps off Boulder Bay.

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