Estuary action warms up
  |  First Published: August 2009

With the weather slowly warming most estuary species will be eager to eat baits and lures throughout Port Stephens.

The next three to four months would have to be my favourites for estuary fishing and September is just the beginning.

Bream have done their spawning and are now moving further into the bay, becoming more aggressive with their feeding habits.

Oyster racks are probably my favourite bream locations at this time of year.

Usually I prefer to fish lures with 2” Gulp Shrimp or bloodworm Squidgy Wrigglers prime soft plastics, while shallow-running Jackall Chubbies are my personal choice in a hard lure for this scenario.

Both types of lures cast parallel to the racks and slowly hopped or retrieved will certainly encourage a bite.

Bait anglers will find plenty on offer, especially by anchoring on the edges of racks and rock walls. It pays to berley to encourage bream to stay in the area and you can’t go past chicken pellets soaked in water so they soften into a fine mixture.

The racks anywhere from Soldiers Point to Tilligerry Creek will be the best bet.

It’s also time to target flathead and as the water slowly warms, they will be on the hunt in the upper reaches of Tilligerry Creek and the Karuah River.

Fish high tide over the flats using lightly weighted soft plastics and shallow-running hardbodies.

Once the tide starts dropping, turn to heavier jig heads or deeper-running hardbodies and target the deeper edges.

Luderick are still in plague proportions and I have had absolute ball chasing these guys from my boat.

Finding areas that aren’t pressured by dozens of anglers is the key but you still need to fish areas that are licked by tide. I usually anchor parallel to a rock wall just on the turn of the high tide, fishing the first two hours of the run out.

Light weight 1kfg to 4kg spin rods of around 7’ to 9’ are ideal, with 4lb to 6lb fluorocarbon leaders to increase bites. A size 8 to 10 chemically sharpened hook is ideal and you can’t go past the Japanese Daiichi brand.

Either cabbage weed or green ‘horse hair’ weed will encourage bites from these finicky feeders.


Fishing around the islands offshore has been a little hit and miss with water temperatures hovering around 17°.

Snapper can be still targeted in the shallows early but when the sun comes up it’s worth heading to deeper areas of 25m-plus.

Wash fishing is probably more productive, with drummer and bream eager to suck down floating baits.

Large green peeled prawns will be the best baits and continually moving around from wash to wash will be the key to success.

If you’re struggling to find a feed then the ever-reliable sand flathead drifts in 40m to 50m from Fingal Island to Broughton are good to put some succulent white fillets in the esky.

Farther offshore, kingies can be still found in water of 100m-plus.

The reef areas surrounding the FAD seem to be the most productive and it’s just a matter of keeping a sharp eye on the sounder to locate the schools, then dropping down a jigs or a live bait.

Areas further north, towards Allmark Mountain, are also worth a look and I have heard of a few school yellowfin tuna in the vicinity so it may be worth cubing or trolling a few deeper-running lures.


Beach fishing remains consistent with plenty of bream found in most gutters on high tide, especially early morning or after dark.

The Little Gibber to the north back to the surf club at Hawks Nest has been the most productive, with most anglers averaging at least half a dozen bream per session.

Salmon numbers are still teeming and they are great fun on light spin tackle.

Stockton Beach is by far the best place to find them and it’s just a matter of driving down and using your eyes to locate an active school.

Rock fishing, as always at this time of year, is very reliable and you can’t go past the luderick.

Cabbage weed under a small stem float and a light fluorocarbon leader will do the job.

Plenty of bream and drummer can be tempted around the washes but it pays to use fresh baits such large green prawns.

Tide is also another factor and I prefer the run up to the high, with areas such as cemetery Point, Fisherman’s Bay and Boat Harbour prime locations.

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