Rocky rewards await
  |  First Published: May 2009

It’s been a tough month of fishing in Port Stephens and it’s all to do with the weather. The fish are certainly there, in fact some species such as bream, luderick, drummer, tailor and snapper have been in excellent numbers and if you can find a break in the big swells and gales, you will definitely score a feed.

When the Winter westerlies begin they signal the start of some excellent beach and rock fishing.

The rocks, in particular, are among my favourite Winter locations and there’s nothing better than tangling with big black drummer. I never tire of chasing pigs from the rocks; their tenacious and dirty fighting tactics keep you on your toes and their thick, white flesh makes an excellent meal.

When chasing pigs it’s important to look for likely locations. The key is plenty of wash and areas with gutters and lots of big boulders for cover.

Berley and bait are also crucial, a little bread berley swirling around in the wash can certainly encourage drummer to bite more freely, while fresh baits such large green prawns, cunjevoi and fresh bread will do the job.

Other species such as bream and luderick will also get involved and will happily chew on the same baits.

Beach fishing is also very rewarding at this time of year; just make sure you have a good set of waders which will make fishing all the more comfortable.

Expect to find those big-blue lipped bream that generally haunt the beach gutters, they can’t resist a fresh pipi or a mullet fillet.

Beaches such as the northern end of Fingal, Birubi and Samurai are all reliable haunts during the Winter.


This month will also see the return of the large salmon schools. A lot has been said over the past few months about the plague proportions and how the numbers should be reduced through commercial netting.

I guess it comes down to personal opinion but I think the old Aussie salmon needs to be looked in a different light. To some recreational anglers salmon offer fantastic sport and can be caught spinning from the rocks and beach, while fly-fishing nuts can have their line and backing smoking off the reel. And if you’re starting to get your kids into fishing then you will have them hooked after their first salmon encounter.

If you can manage to make it outside in between breaks in the gales, tossing plastics in the shallow reefy areas will ensure quality snapper.

I have heard of some really big fish up to 10kg coming from less than 5m of water. The key is using light jig heads of around 1/4oz or less and if there’s no wind or current, try using no lead at all and let the plastic simply waft gently down.

Bait fishos have also been doing well with fresh slimy mackerel, garfish and pilchards floated down a berley trail.

Drifting the 40m to 50m line just out the front of Little Island has resulted in anglers finding a good feed of sand flathead up to 1.5kg, with most anglers easily filling their bag limits.

Further offshore, reports are filtering in of the odd yellowfin tuna on and over the edge of the continental shelf. So far they have mainly been school fish around 25kg but they are still yellowfin and if we manage a break in the weather it may be worth trolling along the edge of the shelf.


The estuary fishing has been steady despite the almost constant rains.

Luderick have turned up in the lower half of the Bay with areas such as Tomaree Headland, Nelson Bay Breakwall, Barnes Rocks and the Corrie Island short cut all yielding quality fish. It seems, however, that fresh cabbage weed is the key.

Bream fishing has been outstanding, especially for those using bait. Again, the lower half of the Bay will yield better numbers and quality.

You can’t go past big green prawns, fresh mullet fillets and mullet gut for bait.

Lure anglers will find that hard and soft lures will work well. Try using lighter fluorocarbon leaders, especially as the water cools and turns clear through Winter.

Some big black drummer are available right now from all the washes around Port Stephens.

It’s luderick time. Whether you are fishing from the rocks or in the estuary, fresh cabbage weed is the key.

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