Out wide or inside, it’s good
  |  First Published: April 2009

As we slowly slide into Winter, when the mornings become colder and the evenings chilly, the fishing in Port Stephens remains hot.

Even though air temperatures begin to drop, the water temperature still remains steady thanks to the remnants of the East Australian Current.

Offshore, striped marlin can still be found along the continental shelf line and with good water and plenty of bait, we might see action into Winter.

It’s a great time of year to head offshore, with light westerly winds in the morning and next to nothing in the afternoons. Through out late Autumn I’ve seen everything from marlin and yellowfin tuna to mako sharks all gorging themselves on the acres of bait pushed to the surface by these predators.

It might also be worth trying deep jigging or bottom fishing.

With light winds and little current it’s time to get the arms pumping or, if you’re smart, use an electric reel.

Areas around Allmark Mountain have plenty of solid reef and yield anything from yellowtail kingfish to bar cod, snapper and, on the deeper edges, blue eye trevalla and hapuka.

I like to use circle hooks attached to at least a 150lb dropper rig with plenty of glow tube just above the hooks. Baits are simple: whole slimy mackerel or large cut baits such striped tuna or bonito are ideal.


If fishing deep all sounds too hard, the inshore options are also very productive.

Snapper fishing will be on the improve and any of those productive shallow reefs will start to yield some very big reddies.

Early morning or late afternoon anchoring on the edge of white boulders or a gravely bottom with a steady berley trail will result in success.

I like to use quality baits when chasing snapper and you can’t go past fresh garfish, slimy mackerel and squid.

Soft plastics are also still highly effective but, as a tip, try and keep your jig head weight to a minimum. As a rule, I generally start with a 1/4oz head and if the wind and current are strong then I progressively move up in size.

Wash fishing is one of the more rewarding ways of finding a feed of fish and right now is the time to be floating baits amid the suds.

Spawning bream will be on the prowl around most headlands and islands and light threadline outfits loaded with 6lb to 10lb braid, 8lb to 12lb leaders and fresh cut baits is an ideal and fun way to tangle with big, blue-lipped bream.

Quality tailor will also be found in the same vicinity and can be enticed with ganged pilchards, garfish, metal lures and surface poppers.

For those who, like me, own a fly rod then why not cast a few Deceivers or baitfish profiles around the wash?

It can be rewarding at this time of year with bonito, kingies, tailor and salmon all ready to pounce on a fly.


The estuary will under go its transition over the next month. With the water cooling, many species such as bream and luderick will gather in big numbers in anticipation of their annual spawning migration.

Big bream are probably the likely targets and they react well to baits and lures.

Rock walls and oyster racks are by far the prime locations throughout Port Stephens.

Soft plastic lures cast along the edges of the racks will definitely be pounced on, as will hard minnows and vibration blades.

Those using baits will benefit by fresh or live nippers, mullet gut and large green prawns. A little berley will also help, try bread or chicken pellets.

Luderick anglers are lining up along many of the rock walls, waiting for those bronze-backed brutes to start sucking down green weed.

Nelson Bay breakwall will be the pick of the spots and it will be shoulder to shoulder over the next few months.

If you’re lucky you might still find a few flathead around the shallows. Shoal Bay, Corlette groynes and Soldiers Point have all yielded quality flathead over the past month with soft plastics and ganged pilchards the most successful methods.


Rock fishing will be the ideal way to successfully find a feed of fish over the next few months.

Drummer, bream and luderick will be found in most washes and when the swell rises and coincides with a high tide, all three species will be easy targets in shallow rock pools after dark.

Cunjevoi and fresh green prawns will be the best baits.

Plenty of tailor up to 2kg are zooming through the washes, with Boat Harbour, Fingal and Fishermans Bay all standouts. Successful methods have been pilchards, garfish and surface poppers.

So over the next few months I will concentrate plenty of effort in fishing the washes and rocks, targeting those bread-and-butter species.

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