Well worth the effort
  |  First Published: May 2010

Fishing around Port Stephens is still consistent and if you pick your days, times and tides the results will be well worth it.

At this time of year rock and beach fishing can be outstanding. Multiple species can be targeted but it’s the rocks that I find most rewarding.

Luderick are easy targets as they gather in almost every sheltered bay from Seal Rocks to Birubi. Catching them can be as simple as suspending green weed or sea cabbage under a traditional stem float or for something a little different, try berleying with fresh bread.

Once luderick sniff out the bread, it’s just a matter casting an unweighted cube down the trail and hanging on. You will be surprised at what will be attracted to a fresh loaf of Wonder White – bream, black and silver drummer, mullet and even some unusual captures such as groper and black cod.

Early-morning starts tossing lightly weighted pilchards, garfish or even salted bonito will attract the attention of the tailor and snapper that haunt the washes.

Prominent headlands such as Fingal, Boulder Bay, Boat Harbour and Fishermans Bay are all prime positions, especially after heavy seas.

The beaches are holding plenty of travelling bream and there’s no better time to head down at dawn or dusk with fresh cut baits such as mullet or tailor fillets.

My favourite locations would have to be around Hawks Nest, the Little Gibber, Fingal, Samurai and of course Birubi through to Stockton.

A sortie after dark will yield good tailor and the odd school jew.

The ever popular Aussie salmon will start to appear as the water cools and these great sport fish can be fun on light spin gear and will readily pounce on metal spinners.


It’s snapper time offshore and most big reds will now move into shallow water to feed and spawn.

Plastics-tossers will find early mornings and light jig heads will be the go in water less then 15m. When the sun comes up, it’s time to move just a little deeper and maybe use a slightly heavier jig head.

Plastic choice is a personal preference but you can’t go past the ever-popular Gulp Jerk Shads and Squidgy Flick Baits; both are deadly.

Areas such as The Sisters, Cod Rock, Edith Breaker and Boat Harbor are all prime spots that yield big snapper.

Fishing the washes will deliver great results, especially by floating peeled prawns or cunjevoi baits for bream and drummer. Pitching pilchards will produce snapper, tailor and kingfish.

Further offshore, water temps have remained remarkably high and there’s still a chance of a striped marlin as well as a yellowfin tuna along the continental shelf.

If you have access to water temp charts then I suggest you find the temperature break and head for that. Find the bait and you will find the fish.

Trolling smaller jet heads will be the key to covering ground and finding the tuna. If you happen to mark bait schools then a cube trail will also be worthwhile.


The estuary is all about blackfish and bream, and from all reports it’s the start of another bumper luderick season.

Areas licked by tidal influence such as the breakwalls at Nelson Bay and The Anchorage are by far the best areas for luderick but a word of warning: It’s standing room only.

Green weed and cabbage suspended under stem floats is the key.

If you’re learning the art of luderick fishing then my suggestion is to watch the old salts a few times to learn some of the basic tricks of the trade.

Bream are also hungry and ferocious and will pounce on any bait, soft plastic or hardbody.

Light fluorocarbon leaders will increase bites and help when a larger bluenose decides to head for cover.

Rock walls and weed flats have produced good numbers of bream while the oyster racks towards Tilligerry Creek and Karuah are yielding larger fish – if you can get them out!

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