It’s a great time of year to be fishing as summer transitions into winter.
Anglers enjoy access to a range of species as the seasons shift in what are usually comfortable and benign conditions.
Paul “Ringo” Lennon, from Fish Port Stephens Estuary Charters, has been busy this week chasing fish throughout the bay.
The estuary has been hosting long-tail tuna, big jew, and lots of flatties.
“There’s still a stack of summer type fish like flathead and whiting around, blending in with winter type bream, tailor and snapper,” Ringo said.
“You get the best of both worlds this time of year.”
The long tail tuna have been banging around the bay for a couple of weeks now and Ringo has been putting his clients onto them.
“Fish have been averaging around the 15kg, with some pushing up over 20kg,” he said.
“There is so much bait in the bay. The trick is to spot the birds and then position yourself to let the fish come to you.
“If you drive over them they will dive and disappear.”
Ringo recommends metal lures in the 30g-60g range.
“They’re switched on to small live bait – frogmouth pilchards and white bait,” he said.
“A few guys are live baiting and I’m not saying you won’t get them that way but you’ll have a better chance if you try and match the size of what they’re feeding on.
“They’re moving around in in patches, some times a school of a dozen bust up.
“You only get a small window each year to fish for long tail in the bay, so while it’s open I suggest you make the most of the opportunity.”
Water temperature has dropped off as winter starts to kick in.
Anglers are reporting some nice early season snapper around Broughton and some good jewies coming off the beach and in the bay.
“Al Shipley got a 140cm mulloway this week,” Ringo said. “Again that’s typical of this time of year as the mullet start to run.
“We’re going to get a bit of a blow this weekend and I expect that will really kick the mullet into gear and we should see the bream fishing come on too.”
Blades and vibes
Anglers have been catching flathead and bream in Newcastle Harbour using blades and vibes, according to Geoff “Kanga” Ruse from Freddys Fishing World.
“My mate Pete got a bream over 50cm,” Kanga said. “We were fishing at night and until then I was cleaning him up. It was caught on a Z Man 4-inch Streak in nuclear chicken colour. We took photos and then released it.
“The Smashed Squid lure has been working really well too, with some pro-tour mullet. It actually looks like a squid and we’ve been bagging flathead fishing the channels in the harbour. I’m actually starting to enjoy lure fishing at night.”
Lots of jew coming out of the harbour on bait. A few round the 15kg to 20kg, according to Kanga.
Local beaches have been fishing well for tailor and whiting.
Kanga fished Stockton Beach the other day and got heaps of whiting on worms when bait fishing,
When the tailor came on later in the afternoon, he swung over to lures and was getting a fish a cast on 65g metal spinners.
Lake Macquarie is producting lots of flathead, jew, bream and whiting, and even a few luderick and salmon are starting to turn up.
“The lake will cool down quicker than anywhere else so that’s where we’ll see these types of winter fish earliest,” Kanga said.
Out wide, Geoff reports still a few marlin around and some real good dolphin fish.
“Noah, who works here at Freddy’s got one that snapped the landing net the other day,” Kanga said.
“The beginning and end of season seems to produce the big mahi mahi; it’s like they run the currents.”
Freshwater, the rivers have been producing great on the surface of an evening and mornings on lures. Dams have been been firing better on deep divers.
Henry Draganic enjoyed some success fishing for wild bass on the Barrington River recently.
First cast a 37cm fish smashed his Bassday Sugapen surface lure.
Young Riley McDonald caught his first ever fish, at the Tea Gardens, last week – a a 41cm flathead.
“He was very proud of himself,” sources report.
Whilst up Hawks Nest way, 11-year-old Ben Elliot reeled in a 36cm bream at Winda Woppa.
SBS show The Feed featured a segment on seismic testing in local waters this week.
Entitled “The Sound Below – The cost of seismic testing”, the report gives an interesting overview of the issues and players in what is a sensitive environmental concern.
Check it out on SBS On Demand. Look up The Feed, and then check the April 24 episode.