The first week of January got off to a hot start but it looks like we’re in for a brief pause this weekend.
A small southerly is tipped to blow through late Saturday into Sunday, blunting the raging nor-easter that has cooled the coast for the last week and a half.
As alluded to in this column last week, the non-stop nor-easter triggered an upwelling of cold water along the coast, dropping temps in close.
“It’s played havoc with fishing out wide,” Chris “Man” Drake from Tackle World Port Stephens said.
“Offshore has been a bit inconsistent with the water colour a bit green and not a lot of joy.
“Inshore, although the temps have been down, the water is clear and it’s been much better, with good reports of snapper, groper and few little kingies to keep people interested.
“The key is to sneak out early before the nor-easter kicks in each day.
“Bait fishing in the washes has been the most productive.”
Beach in reach
Beaches have been fishing well for whiting.
“They have come on really well the last couple of weeks,” Chris said.
“Live tube worms have been the go.
“Been some good jewies caught at night on the Stockton end of the beach too.
“Inside the bay, we’ve seen some squid around the weed beds and tailor smacking white bait on the surface in the lower parts of the system.”
Paul “Ringo” Lennon, from Fish Port Stephens Estuary Charters, reports plenty of whiting and bream biting on surface lures in the bay.
“Good flathead around too,” he added. “We caught one 80cm on a charter midweek.
“Lots of small jewies in most of the known haunts.”
Lack of rain stymied predicted the Myall River prawn run this week.
“Not enough water to push them down,” said Chris who reckons the weekend southerly will provide relief but won’t be enough to nudge the prawns nor turn the water over outside.
“We’d probably need it to blow four or five days straight to fix that up, but it’ll be better than nothing.”
With the weed backing off Port Stephens beaches, his tip for the weekend is to get some live worms, head to some secluded beach away from the holiday throng and get a feed of whiting.
Mark “Wilba” William, co-ordinator of the DPI Lake Macquarie Trophy Flathead tagging program reports his crack team of flathead whisperers is poised to salute the double ton, probably sometime this week.
“We’re up to 196 as of Thursday, January 5,” Wilba said.
“We passed 100 in July 2018, so we’re going along good.
“There’s been some big ones tagged lately too.
“Nathan De Bono tagged a 94cm fish, the second biggest one we’ve tagged.
“Steve Norris has tagged a 90cm and an 89cm fish recently.
“And Dan Guilfoyle tagged an 85.5cm fish recently too.”
The Trophy Flathead tagging program is part of a DPI initiative to gather data on the behavioural patterns of large breeding flathead stocks in Lake Macquarie.
Only flathead 70cm and over are tagged.
It’s part of a wider tagging program taking in St Georges Basin and Tuross Lakes.
“Once tagged, the fish are released and then if recaptured, anglers are asked to record the location, length and most importantly the six-digit tag number and pass that on to DPI, or their local tackle shop or fishing club who can pass the info on,” Wilba said.
It’s important thing to bear in mind at any time while fishing, but particularly at this time of year, with so many visiting holiday anglers on the water.
“That 94cm fish Nathan caught was recaptured four days later,” Wilba said.
“The guy called into a local tackle shop and did the right thing by recording the length and location but he didn’t get the tag number, so we couldn’t verify the fish.
“We want to remind everyone how important that tag number is because it confirms the actual fish.
“All it takes is a quick snap with the mobile phone and it’s done.”
The tagging program has been instituted with a view to the future so that decisions on the sustainability of the species can be made on a solid scientific basis.
“The hope is to build a culture of catch and release in the community for the larger breeding females,” Wilba said.
“You want the genetics of those fish being passed down. They are the genetic ‘winners’ of life and they are the ones you want spreading their progeny throughout the lake.”
Jew on chew
Wilba reports plenty of jew in the lake, with many anglers doing well on baits and lures with fish up to a metre or so.
“Solid whiting about in the channel and flatties in the Hunter River too,” he added.