The weather may be cool but the fishing around Port Stephens at the moment is red-hot.
Although the westerly and southerly winds can make it tough to be out on the water, many other opportunities open up at this time of year, especially fishing from the beaches and rocks.
Many local beaches are protected from westerly winds, making them very comfortable to fish day and night. Anywhere from Box Beach, Fingal, Samurai, One Mile and even Stockton are protected from offshore winds and host many popular species including, bream, tailor, flathead, jewfish and salmon.
The northern side of Fingal Spit and Samurai Beach are two of my favourites to target snowy bream after dark. Both have prominent rocky points at either end, which could explain why so many fish such as bream find these stretches of sand attractive.
All you need is a light 4kg to 6kg beach outfit and fresh mullet fillets, garfish or pilchards and you’re in with big chance, especially on rising tide.
Salmon are back in numbers right along the coast. I know many readers will curse them and they do become annoying when you’re targeting other species, but if you’re prepared to look at them in a different light they can be a fantastic way to fill in a morning or afternoon and the kids will get a great thrill when they’re getting dragged up and down the beach by a 4kg fish.
Use a 2kg to 4kg, 7’ spin outfit and attach a 10g to 15g metal lure or a soft plastic. Or if you were caught in the fly-fishing craze just five years ago, dust off that 9-weight and head down to your nearest beach with a Surf Candy, I’m sure you will see 100m of backing off your fly reel in no time.
Rock fishing is outstanding at the moment. Plenty of bream are hanging around the washes and can be tempted with lightly weighted peeled prawns, mullet fillets and cubes of pilchard.
Two of the best spots in a large swell and a rising tide are the torpedo tubes at Tomaree Headland and the Boulders at Yacaaba Headland at the northern side of the port. Both areas can be loaded with bream and blackfish in a heavy swell – but can also be loaded with anglers.
Big black drummer, or pigs, of all sizes are in plague proportions. This Winter I have noticed an increase in numbers of juvenile drummer between 20cm and 30cm, which can only mean that we will be rewarded for seasons to come.
Don’t worry if you’re catching small ones, it won’t be long before a big pig snaffles your bait so make sure your drag is screwed up all the way.
Luderick anglers have been bagging out on quality fish to 1.5kg, with many fishing the calm bays from Fingal to Birubi.
Have a squid jig handy, plenty of large squid live in the same areas. One recent outing I was plagued by large squid which attacked anything, including a hooked luderick.
Big tailor have appeared, with some fish well over 3kg caught from the beaches and rocks. Pilchards and garfish are the premium baits, while large pencil poppers and metal lures have worked really well early morning and late afternoon.
If you can find a break in the weather and head offshore, you will be rewarded.
Snapper to 10kg are eager to smash soft plastics and good sand flathead can be caught drifting in 40m to 50m north-east of Broughton Island and east of Little Island. Take plenty of hooks and sinkers because they’re being snipped off by plagues of leatherjackets.
Recently I’ve launched my tinny off Fingal Beach and fished the washes for bream, drummer, tailor and snapper. It’s a great way to find a feed of fish and you cab access plenty of spots.
But it’s not for the faint-hearted, make sure you know your spots because the shallow ones can be dangerous in any sort of swell.
Further offshore, a few yellowfin and striped tuna have appeared around the continental shelf. Look for temperature breaks and birds and the tuna won’t be far away. Try high-speed skirted lures or bibbed lures such as Halco Laser Pros.
Inside the bay, plenty of luderick can be caught along the Nelson Bay breakwall while bream can be taken there on floating baits.
On high tide plenty of tailor are chasing bait schools through out the bay. Cast metal lures or troll small bibbed lures for fish up to 1.5kg. Look for the birds and you’re guaranteed a tailor.
It may be cold but it certainly worth getting out there and catching a feed.Reads: 1015