Port Stephens

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Fishing in Port Stephens

Hoping to hook into a trophy Marlin this year? Look no further than Port Stephens, New South Wales. There’s a reason why the NSW Game Fishing Tournament is held here each year. Over the past decade, more than 20 world record Billfish captures were recorded in the Port Stephens and Newcastle area. So when we say this is the place to catch Marlin, it’s a fact. The techniques anglers use here make the fishing that much more impressive–from conventional tackle to saltwater fly fishing and spearfishing. Port Stephens fishing charters aren’t just your ticket to the best Marlin fishing in Australia, they’re a chance to discover everything these waters have to offer!

Known For

Big Game Fishing

More than anything, Port Stephens is known for its epic big game fishing, which has everything to do with location. The nearby East Australian Current carries schools of baitfish toward the coast in summer months. Bigger fish like Tuna, Marlin, Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, and Spearfish follow the baitfish, appearing in large numbers off the coast of Australia between December and May. As a result, anglers in Port Stephens get to enjoy the country’s finest deep sea fishing during these months.

The continental shelf roughly 20 miles from shore is yet another reason why this town enjoys such stellar game fishing. With relatively quick access to the deep sea beyond the shelf, anglers in Port Stephens can hook into Marlin, Tuna, monster Sharks, and other prizes without traveling for hours on end. Even before reaching the drop off, you can expect excellent fishing for some of these species. Fishing near Broughton Island can lead to plenty of Marlin hookups, and you’ll be able to fish the reefs in this area for a variety of other species, too.

Coastal Reef Fishing

The reefs surrounding Broughton Island host Snapper, Kingfish (Yellowtail Amberjack), Jewfish, Pearl Perch, Flathead, and more. The Snapper around here are known to reach 9kg and will readily bite soft lures as well as baits. In April, Longtail Tuna pass by the island’s small headland known as Little Gibber. You can fill your cooler with table fare from these waters in a little as 5 hours!

Estuary Fishing

Port Stephens boasts one of the largest and most beautiful estuary systems in the state. These waters are riddled with weed beds, sandbars, mudflats, rock walls, wrecks, and deep holes, which makes for a dynamic fishery. Here you can catch seasonal game fish such as Bream, Flathead, Tailor, Whiting, Mulloway, Kingfish, Australian Salmon,and even the odd Longtail Tuna. On days when the bay is too choppy for comfort, charter boats retreat up the Myall, Karuah, and Tilligery Rivers to continue fishing in protected waters.

Need to Know

Regulations

Many Port Stephens fishing charters provide licenses, tackle, and bait for their customers. It’s always best to confirm that the charter operator provides a fishing license for you ahead of time, since you’ll need to buy one yourself if they do not. 

If you plan to fish anywhere in New South Wales without a licensed guide (both in freshwater and saltwater), you must pay the NSW recreational fishing fee and carry your receipt as proof.

Post Stephens Fishing Techniques

Most fishing in the estuary involves casting soft plastics, hard bodied lures, and bait. Reef fishing typically involves bottom fishing and jigging.

While fishing offshore, you’ll have a wide variety of methods to choose from, whether it’s classic trolling or one of the more action-packed techniques that local anglers are known for, such as spearfishing and saltwater fly fishing. Both of these methods are used to catch Marlin off the coast of Port Stephens, and can be a great way for more experienced fishermen to give themselves a new challenge! 

Budget

Fishing trips in Port Stephens vary in price depending on how far from shore you travel. Estuary fishing trips range from AUD $400-800, depending on the length of your trip. A half day trip to the coastal reefs (usually 5 hours) costs AUD $800-950, or about AUD $150 per person if you join a shared charter. Full day trips (7 hours) cost around AUD $1,000, or AUD $180 per person.

Offshore big game fishing trips typically last around 10 hours and cost AUD $1,800-2,000. Overnight charters and mothership packages are also available, and prices are usually discussed with skippers on an individual basis.

Getting There

Port Stephens is a 2½ hour drive from Sydney via the M1 Motorway. If you don’t have access to a car, you can catch one of the daily coaches which runs between Sydney and Port Stephens. TrainLink provides transportation all over the state and can bring you to the nearby city of Newcastle by train.

If you’re flying in, you can catch a plane to Newcastle from other cities such as Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, Sydney, and Gold Coast.

Make your way to Port Stephens next summer and experience the Marlin fishing Australia is famous for!

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Port Stephens Fishing Seasons

January

Marlin are showing up in greater numbers off the coast of Port Stephens. Blue, Black, and Striped Marlin are all in the cards around here, and local charter boats are gearing up for peak season.

February

February marks peak Marlin season here in Port Stephens. Head offshore to catch a big Blue! Small Yellowfin Tuna can be found cruising along the continental shelf.

March

Peak Marlin season continues in March. Cobia are starting to appear around the islands offshore, while Flathead, Salmon, and Tailor are biting in the estuary.

April

You can find good numbers of Yellowfin Tuna and Marlin offshore in at this time of year, even though neither species is at its peak. Cobia are keeping anglers busy closer to shore.

May

Large Yellowfin start showing up in May, with some fish weighing more than 60 kg! They’re joined by Albacore Tuna, which make for great light tackle action.

June

You can continue to enjoy excellent fishing for Yellowfin and Albacore Tuna in June, and your chances of landing a broadbill Swordfish are higher than average.

July

Longtail Tuna are showing up just in time to replace Yellowfin and Albacore as they fade out. In the estuary, you can catch Tailor, Flathead Salmon, and more.

August

Fishing can be hit and miss this time of year. Longtail Tuna are already leaving the coast, but Yellowfin and Albacore fishing is starting to pick up again just in time to keep you busy! 

September

The peak fishing season in Port Stephens is still months away, but you can still enjoy relatively good fishing if you know where to look. The estuary has plenty to offer, and Tuna are biting offshore.

October

Mahi Mahi are starting to appear again, and you can expect good fishing in the estuary. When all else fails, Snapper fishing will keep you preoccupied!

November

Many inshore species are at their peak as spring turns to summer. Farther from shore, Kingfish and Mahi Mahi are biting more and more.

December

Deep sea fishing is starting to pick up momentum in Port Stephens. Marlin are reappearing, Kingfish are at their peak, and Mahi Mahi are growing more numerous.

Port Stephens Fishing Calendar

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Top Targeted Species in Port Stephens