So far this year we’ve been lucky enough to have copped a good season of fresh, blue warm water and while ever the water has been warm in close, the fish have been firing.
Snapper, jewfish, whiting, mahi mahi and marlin have all been on the chew over the last couple of moons and with the fishing season coming to a climax over the next few months, anglers shouldn’t find it difficult to catch a fish.
This is the time of year that most anglers live for. The nor’-easters are calming and the airstream returns to a light southerly; currents are from the north and seas are usually calm.
These next few months also signify the changing of the season. It’s when heaps of different species make their spawning runs to sea. Mullet, bream, blackfish and salmon are the most dominant and, along with myriad baitfish hitching a ride on the warm current, make the basis of a feeding orgy. Wherever there’s baitfish bigger fish are never far behind.
For land-based game anglers the season is just starting and it’s time to renew line and tune drags. The northern bluefin tuna are coming and hopefully this season will be reasonable, despite our dwindling northern bluefin stocks being netted for pet food.
But this isn’t the only place around the Port for land-based game: Most of the headlands will produce good fishing at the right time. I usually like to fish the change of tide, either early morning or late afternoon or any time if the day is overcast or raining.
And then when your livie has swum round every wash from Birubi to Broughton without so much as a tooth mark, you can put it down to luck because for LBG you just have to be in the right place at the right time. If you can figure that out every time, you’ve well and truly cracked the code!
March to May also seems to be a good time for snapper. Big snapper like to cruise in close with the abundant baitfish and warm currents. Fantastic afternoons can be had with big, bumpy reds being taken in less than six metres of water.
When you hook one in this shallow water you generally don’t have much trouble knowing it’s a snapper. The hard, bumping run is unmistakable and they don’t mess about in shallow, reefy water so it’s hold on or you’re done!
No matter what sort of line you prefer – braid or mono, when a snapper decides to rub you off on its favorite lump of granite, there’s not much that will stop it.
Until this year, beach fishing wasn’t one of my favorite forms of the sport. In fact unless conditions were absolutely perfect (mission impossible), I hated it. The sand in your favorite spinning reel, in your eyes, in your pants, in your hair, ears and nostrils –arghh! But this year has been a real sea change for me.
With this year’s whiting run I’ve developed a love for the sand and the surf as well as eating whiting – well, more of eating whiting than the sand. The sweet little fishies are really fantastic whatever way you cook them and once you get past the sand in your undies, they are really fun to catch.
The estuary also seems to fire this time of year with flathead, whiting and bream all prolific through out the Port. Although flathead are on the cards wherever you fish in Port Stephens, the bigger shovel-sized jobbies seem to move up into the backwaters and upper reaches now. Tilligerry and Karuah should be worth a go, as well as some of the smaller feeder creeks.
For bream my guess would be to head for the nearest oyster rack or the gnarliest-looking territory you can find. There’s one area a couple of mates and I have dubbed Carnage World as the territory is so rough that one touch to your hull and the paint seems to shred off the boat in great hunks. It’s not a problem for my tinny but in my mate’s 20-grand bream boat, every oyster sounds like $50 bills going through a shredder.
But these places usually hold the best, the biggest and meanest bream in existence. The only problem is getting the buggers out. There definitely is a knack to it and it isn’t finesse – if the fish pulls, you pull harder. That’s generally the formula in this territory.
So this is the best time of year to go fishing. Hit the rocks for a bluefin or the reef for a snapper. The beach is also not a bad option, nor is the estuary. But whatever you do, Winter’s just around the corner so do it fast.
Matt Clark rests Mr Bumpy for a photo shoot. Nice grin, Matt!Reads: 682