The local fishing could not be more exciting than it is now. Although the air temperature has lost a few degrees, the water is still warm with inshore waters around 21°.
This time of year marks the crossover of Summer species to Winter species such as black drummer, luderick and bream.
Those chilly mornings with light westerly winds mark the start of my rock fishing exploits, especially for drummer and luderick.
Black drummer are fantastic fighting fish and, if prepared properly, are exceptional eating. All of the rock ledges from Seal Rocks to Fishermans Bay have healthy populations but it seems those areas with plenty of wash and movement in the water have the greater numbers and size.
Make sure that you have a constant bread berley and fresh baits such as peeled green prawns, cunjevoi and fresh bread.
Don’t be surprised if a few luderick decide to join in on the action, sometimes you may even see them slurping pieces of bread from the surface. If you see this, you can easily catch them on small pieces of bread moulded to a No 6 to No 8 long-shank hook suspended under a small float.
Beach fishos will be gearing up for the annual migration of big blue-nose bream that travel along most beaches at this time of year.
Stockton Beach is by far the best location. With its many gutters, it’s just a matter of locating the right one in anticipation of school moving through. As well as being exceptional eating, these travelling bream can be great fun on light threadline outfits with 2kg to 4kg line.
Other beaches, such as Fingal and Samurai (just to the north of One Mile) are excellent locations with plenty of gutters. Both are protected from the westerly winds.
The islands off Port Stephens are producing exceptional snapper, especially in the shallow water to 20m.
This is the beginning of what some believe is the spawning time for big snapper. Many fish of 8kg-plus are caught in shallow areas such as The Sisters, The Gutz and North Island, all surrounding Broughton Island.
This is the time of year where soft plastics are deadly for snapper.
Since the advent of plastics I believe that many more and bigger snapper have been caught. Thankfully the majority of fisherman now choose to release the larger breeding stock.
It’s not only Broughton Island that produces big snapper. To the south, Big Island, Little Island, Boulder Bay and Fishermans Bay all hold good numbers and quality.
Big tailor are also on the cards, especially early in the morning around the washy headlands. Fresh garfish rigged on a gang of 5/0 hooks tossed into the wash just on sunup will produce quality tailor to 2.5kg with the odd bigger fish.
If you’re not a fan of eating tailor then why not try a few fillets cooked in a portable smoker – once you have tried a piece of freshly smoked tailor fillet you will be converted.
The estuary fishing will slow with onset of Winter although many bream will move downstream in readiness for spawning. These fish can be very eager to take a bait, soft plastic or hard lure. The rock walls further towards the entrance of the bay are ideal locations.
Big luderick also will be eager to suck down fresh green weed suspended under a well-balanced float. The retired gentlemen of the Bay will arm themselves with their uniquely designed trolleys and will each head down to their favourite rock along the breakwall at the Nelson Bay Marina. I suggest heading down along the breakwall to watch these masters at work.Reads: 1174