Plenty of time on the water
  |  First Published: April 2004

THIS IS arguably the best time of year for fish and anglers alike. The currents are warm and tinged with a purple, iridescent glow that fish find tantalizing and the days are often calm, giving anglers plenty of time on the water.

The marlin season was a bit unpredictable around this part of the coast this year, with early currents fluctuating due to the dreaded north-easterlies. As the year progresses, the north-easters should subside, leaving the warm water to linger and keep some good fish around.

The inshore reefs have been producing well with reports of quality trag, jew and snapper flooding in from the local boys. They tell me the secret is getting to know the area – when a certain reef will fire, what bait to use, what rig and what technique. It’s taken these guys years to work out.

I went for a trip with Noel Martin recently – four times winner of the Port Stephens Trailer Boat Tournament. We started early one morning and hit one of his shallow reef spots, where we caught half a dozen good-sized squire. When they went off, we picked up anchor and headed to another reef, where we hooked up on jew almost immediately. After that we headed inshore to chase snapper again and spot after spot produced.

Our success was due to the passion and effort put in by Noel into knowing the spots backwards. If you’re having trouble catching fish on the inshore reefs, persist and learn your chosen ground like your backyard. It will pay off in the long run.

The Trailer Boat Comp is upon us yet again with hundreds of anglers flocking to the Port with aspirations of winning boatloads of prizes. This is a great thing for the local economy and is a fantastic arena to see how good you really are at catching fish. But please, take some time to consider the fact that because it is such a big drawcard with so many anglers, it puts a great strain on the area’s already depleted fish stocks. So take only what you need and I would even go as far as to release every fish that is not eligible for points in the tournament to relieve the strain on the fish population.


The estuary has been fishing rather well. Soldiers Point and Corrie Island are producing great bream on lures and bait, although something is amiss in the upper reaches of the system.

I practically grew up on Tilligerry Creek. I fished it every weekend at least once and I know almost every nook and cranny where fish will be on what part of the tide. But over the past few years fish just simply do not turn up there. Bream used to be easy to catch but now they are becoming rarer and flathead used to be a dime a dozen.

And the saddest thing is this has all happened in the past four to five years. I don’t know what’s caused this, whether it’s been over-fishing by professionals or amateurs or both or maybe even an increase in run-off polluting the waterway. I don’t know why it’s so poor but it would be good if we could all keep an eye out on this fantastic stretch of water and try and look after it as it deserves.


On a more positive note, the beaches are fishing famously with Stockton being the most popular. Someone said to me the other day that Stockton Beach would probably be the best fishing beach in the whole of Australia. I think he’s probably right.

The southern end of the beach is deep and produces catches of jewfish equal to any other spot on the coast and at the shallow northern end whiting are most common. These months see the beginning of the spawn run for many fish such as mullet, tailor and bream and inevitably when this happens the bigger predators like jewfish are never far behind. So collect some bait, set your drags and get ready for another fantastic April!


With fluctuating currents predicted to settle this month, marlin should still hang around for another few weeks.

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