The best advice I can give for Winter is to get a good set of warm, dry wet weather clothing and get out there, because the bread-and-butter species around Port Stephens have been biting their heads off.
Luderick are staple fish of the estuary at this time of year and Nelson Bay breakwall is a hive of activity as the local brigade fills their keeper bags.
If you’re keen on learning the art of luderick fishing then my suggestion is to pick up a coffee and sit down somewhere along the breakwall and watch the old-timers’ technique. Ask questions, because many are often willing to help.
Luderick will also be prolific at Little Beach wharf, the Anchorage and Tomaree.
Bream are great Winter targets and I like nothing better than casting out a lightly weighted peeled prawn or mullet fillet on the incoming tide for a bream.
If you’re land-based then squeeze in between the luderick fishers at the breakwall but when the sea is big, head straight for the tubes at Tomaree where big blue-nose bream seek shelter from the seas.
If you’re in a boat your options are endless. The Short Cut Wall at Tea Gardens works well at this time of year. Anchor parallel and cast unweighted baits close to the wall and they will instantly be snaffled.
Soft plastics and hardbodies cast around the oyster racks and rock walls at Pindimar Bay, Soldiers Point and the entrance to the Karuah River should prove dynamite.
Recently Rohan from Castaway Estuary Charters and I had a brilliant two-hour session catching and releasing more than 40 bream to 1.1kg on plastics and hardbodies, with the old faithful bloodworm Squidgy Wriggler outfishing them all.
Flathead can be still caught but my advice is to fish the shallows, where they often will be seeking the warmth of the sun.
Slowing your retrieve when using lightly weighted soft plastics but for better action try live poddy mullet – even the slowest of flathead can’t resist a struggling poddy.
If you love your rock fishing then Winter is your domain.
Early morning sessions fishing the washes will yield any number of species. Black drummer, or pigs as they are affectionately known, can be found in nearly all washy areas from Fingal Bay to Boat Harbour.
Time your efforts to coincide with an early morning high tide, put out a steady berley trail of bread and you should be in luck. Fresh cunjevoi or peeled prawns will be the best baits and you may even score some decent bream and luderick.
Kilo-plus tailor are about many of the headlands but your best bet is to fish just on sunup at the southern end of Box Beach or One Mile Headland for best results.
Beach fishing is always a great proposition and when the westerly winds blow, calming the seas, it’s time to spin the beaches for salmon.
There’s nothing better than using a light spin outfit and watching 3kg of raging salmon crashing through the waves with your small metal lure in its mouth.
A standout this Winter has been the Yo-Zuri Adagio 105, a slim-profile lure with a fantastic action that casts like a bullet.
Soaking baits in the gutters will yield plenty of travelling bream but after dark seems to better. Try Samurai, Fingal and Birubi.
Snapper fishing over reefs in less than 20m has been sensational.
When the south-westerly wind blows you can bet that the snapper will be on the chew.
Soft plastics cast around the shallow bommies on the inside of Broughton Island have performed best. Edith Breaker and south down around Fishermans Bay have been productive spots.
Wash fishing is great and you will find plenty of bream around Fingal Island and Boulder Bay. When the sea is calm, try floating down a crab for a blue groper.
It’s also time for some deep water fishing as the current slows down along the continental shelf. There are plenty of mid-sized kings at Allmark Mountain with knife jigs working well for them.
Bottom fishing is great for bar cod and snapper but for something different try fishing over the edge for hapuku, blue eye trevalla and bass groper.Reads: 3013