Weekend tides ideal

FISH OF THE WEEK: Conner Moore from Medowie wins the Jarvis Walker tacklebox and Tsunami lure pack for this 74cm flathead caught in the Hunter River.

FISH OF THE WEEK: Conner Moore from Medowie wins the Jarvis Walker tacklebox and Tsunami lure pack for this 74cm flathead caught in the Hunter River.

We’ve got some really great tides rolling in for the Australia Day long weekend.

Early morning, late afternoon changes – prime times for fishing, according to Fish Port Stephens Estuary Charters skipper Paul “Ringo” Lennon.

The bay has been delivering this week with consistent flathead and bream, and lot of surface activity associated with bonito, tailor and the odd kingfish.

“You find where the birds working and you can spend an hour catching a fish nearly every cast,” Paul said.

“There’s been a few jewies caught  in the deeper water around Soldiers Point.

“Al Wilson and a couple of mates have  been getting some nice bags of snapper around Broughton Island with fish up to  4kg. 

“Beaches have been holding some very nice whiting and jew, with tube worms working well on the former and pillies the latter.” 

Charting success

Paul, who juggles his services at Tackle Power Port Stephens, launched his charter business at the end of last year and has been reeling in the business since.

“People constantly asked about it in the shop and I saw a bit of a gap in the market,” Paul explained.

Paul provides half day, five hour, custom charters in the bay, catering to all levels, from novices who want to catch their first fish, to really seasoned hardcore experts with dedicated fishing goals.

“I cover all the estuaries, right up to Karuah, and the  Myall Lakes system and everywhere in between,” Paul said.  “I really get a kick out of it, especially the kids.”

Ripe for marlin

The Australia Day weekend is typically a ripe time for marlin fishing as  pelagics make their summer migration down the coast.

With the long weekend and prospect of game fishing tournaments on the horizon   a lot of boats will be taking the opportunity to head outside for a shot.

In encouraging news, there was a bit of a bite out on the Shelf last weekend, with Born Free releasing five marlin last Sunday. Another boat, The Omen, released four and Rakemup three.

Getting game

It augers well with the Hunter gamefishing tournament calendar   jam-packed through February-March.

Action kicks off with the Bigfish Bonanza, hosted by Lake Macquarie GFC on   February 9-11.

Then the 2018 Garmin Billfish Shootout Tournament, hosted by Newcastle & Port Stephens GFC, February 16-18.

Followed by the 2018 NSWGFA Interclub State Championships out of Port Stephens from February 22-25.

And then the East Coast Classic being run by Newcastle Game Fishing Club March 10-11.

A real highlight this year is the $100,000 on offer during the Shootout for any blue marlin weighing more than 236kg.

Why 236kg?

Organisers looked back over the years at what size fish had been caught during the Shootout to get a bit of an average about what would be achievable without being easy.

“It had to be a worthy fish for the $100,000 and the opportunity is definitely there,” said Brent “Hammer” Hancock,  Tackle World Port Stephens proprietor and a Shootout director at Newcastle Port Stephens GFC.

With cash and prizemoney totalling about $250,000  coming from the club and sponsors, the Shootout is now one of the biggest tournaments of its kind in Australia. 

“It widens the appeal to anglers who see a genuine chance to get return on their commitment,” Brent said.

“If you think about it, a trailerboat might cost $100k and you could pay that off in one day.”

The Shootout also offers $12.5k for champion boat tag and release,  $12.5k for biggest marlin over 150kg and under 236kg, and $5k for champion boat tag and release under eight metres, as well as a swag of cash and prizes in a plethora of other categories.

“It’s going to be a big tournie with a lot of entries – we’ve got double what we had last year and they’re  piling in.”

For further details visit www.npsgfc.com.

Real fishy

Shannon Malone, from Fisherman’s Warehouse at Marks Point, reports some nice mahi mahi up to 18kg caught last weekend.

Shannon trolled Tuesday just inside the ships off Swansea and says  there was schools of bonito, striped tuna, frigates and mac tuna everywhere.

“Real fishy but nothing of any quality in terms of predators,” he said.

“The water is not quite where it should be yet.  The water went real milky after the southerly but it’s starting to improve.”

Lake news

Lake Macquarie is fishing well for bream and whiting on tube worms in the shallows. There’s been a little bit of action around Moon Island with bonito, mac  tuna and a few good kings, mixed in with the rats, responding to anything that resembles a bait fish.