In my opinion April is the pinnacle month for fishing in Port Stephens as it’s prime time for so many different species regardless of whether you’re fishing the beach, estuary, rocks or offshore.
The lower half of the estuary system is currently brimming with schools of baitfish. Pelagic species such as tailor and bonito are taking full advantage of this bounty. These predators can be easily caught on calm mornings sight casting lures at the bust-ups, with small metals in the 15-30g size range. If you’re land based, head to the Salamander Shores jetty or the Anchorage rock walls to get in on the action.
And don’t be surprised if a school of longtail tuna starts erupting through the baitfish. We are coming into that exciting time of year when these torpedoes enter the bay.
Dusky flathead are still in good numbers, with most of the shoreline from Karuah to Shoal Bay worth a flick with plastics, especially on the high tides.
Mulloway have also revved up thanks to all the baitfish around, and can be found in the drop-offs around Soldier Point and along the breakwalls. Using live baits and fishing the tide changes will give you the best chance of mulloway success. Daytime is best for deeper water, and night is more productive around the break walls.
Stacks of blue swimmer crabs have been reported from North Arm Cove, Tilligerry and Karuah. Just bear in mind that witches hats are banned in Port Stephens.
Off the beach, whiting remain in excellent numbers. Live worms, long shank hooks, a nice looking gutter and a high tide are the keys to catching them.
The bream by-catch that comes from fishing for whiting with live worms should also increase this month as these fish start to migrate along the beaches.
Mullet will also be starting their annual migration out of the estuaries, moving north along the beaches attracting some serious predators. The mighty mulloway is one predator that will take advantage of the mullet run. Putting in some time after dark on the beaches can really pay off this month.
It’s that time of year when dedicated hard-core LBG anglers come out to play. Their target is longtail tuna, which are ripping past the headlands, terrorizing bait schools of slimy mackerel, yellowtail and garfish.
The preferred method of getting connected to one these torpedoes is a live bait suspended about 2m under a float, however they will also smack stickbaits and metal lures.
Often the hardest part of catching a longtail tuna is not hooking onto a fish but rather getting it back to the rocks and past the ruthless sharks. On bad days anglers can have several hook-ups and no fish to show for their efforts.
There’s also the chance of a cobia from the stones at this time of year. There have already been a few reports of cobes landed in recent weeks.
Black marlin are still a target inshore. Everywhere from the front of Fingal Light through to Seal Rocks has been holding fish, with live baiting the most popular way to catch them.
Mahimahi are in numbers around the FAD and are most aggressive on first light before they have seen too many other boats.
Charter boats have reported good catches of snapper and teraglin from the Vee, 21 and Gibber reefs. The shallow reefs are fishing well for reds as well, particularly around Fingal and Broughton Island. Some late afternoon bait sessions have been producing some fine reds to 6kg.Reads: 340