Sand whiting and flathead have kept anglers excited in the shallows this week.
Outside, it's been steady but could be improved with a southerly buster or two.
Inshore fishing remains at the mercy of dominant nor-easterly winds which have prevented warmer water from the Eastern Australian Current pushing in.
Having said that, the fishing has not been bad - it just could get a whole lot better. And it is only early December after all.
Brent "Hammer" Hancock, from Tackle World Port Stephens reports great sand whiting inside the bay along the sand flats at places like Corlette and Soldiers Point.
"The water has warmed up and people are getting great results fishing the incoming tide with either live baits, like prawns and yabbies, or surface lures."
Hammer is a big rap on the New Daiwa Slippery Dog surface lure or the EBI Panics.
"These two have been standout surface lures on the whiting at the moment," he said.
"You just need to get some surface action skipping them along the top like a prawn."
Flathead have been about in good numbers and size throughout local systems.
"Typically, you just need to work the shallower margins up against structures with good current," Hammer said.
"Flathead love laying next to something with a bit of flow. Been some beauties caught this week in the bay, up around the 80cm and 90cm range."
Like whiting, flathead respond to both live baits and soft plastics.
As far as lures go, bigger is often better - six inch with paddle tails. Or perhaps try a glide bait.
"It's a new style of surface lure, like a bit hard body," Hammer explained.
"It slowly suspends in the water and has an action like a dying whiting or mullet.
"Molix do a glide bait which is the same colour as a sand whiting - 18cm long.
"It might sound big, but flatties hit them. Flatties will hit anything really. Particularly the big ones. Even the medium size lizards are pretty game."
Offshore, Brad from Pacific Charters was talking to Hammer and reports some steady fishing along the V and 21 reefs.
"Trag, snapper and legal size kingies - good reef fishing," Hammer said.
"Water is still a bit cool around that 19 degree Celsius mark but it's still only early days in the season.
"The pelagics won't be that far away once the water gets there."
It's been a similar story along the beaches this week.
"Northerlies have toned things down," Hammer said.
"There have been a few sand whiting on the beaches and they should come on stronger as things warm up.
"Otherwise, plenty of salmon and a few jew caught on Stockton last weekend on the full moon."
Looking to the weekend, the weather looks OK, with a bit of a nor-easter dominating Saturday but backing off into Sunday.
"I reckon you can't go wrong in the estuaries this week," Hammer said.
"Or you could try the deeper reefs early on Saturday before the northerly hits in, or maybe target a Sunday arvo fish."
Wind it up
Simon Rowe, from Sandgate Tackle Power tends to agree about the nor-easters.
"Been a few jew on the beaches and whiting about in slightly better numbers along Stockton and in the Lake," Simon said.
"Still a few salmon about, which is annoying people. Water temps need to rise to keep them travelling south.
"Sand flats really are the place to be, particular as the prawns continue to run out over the next few weeks.
"Bream, whiting and flathead will chase them and that means we can chase them too."
Up the valley, Simon reports the bass have been hit and miss.
"Unsettled weather can flick the switch," he said. "Stormy weather plays havoc with the barometer. Early morning and late arvo with surface lures is not a bad starting point. But generally you have to throw everything until you work out what they want."
This weekend, Simon agrees estuary fishing might be the go, but his big tip in the wake of the full moon last weekend is to fish the breakwalls next weekend.
"The new moon will be ideal for jew, who like to hunt those bigger tides in the lead-up to the new moon under the cover of darkness," he said.
Lake angler Paul Johnson achieved something 70 years in the making this week - his first Lake Macquarie jew.
"I've got three over my lifetime - one in Gladstone, one at Karuah and now this one," Paul reported.
Paul's mulloway weighed in at 4.5kg and was caught in Belmont Bay fishing the middle of the day.
"Forget strategy," he reports. "I've got $300 worth of lures in my boat and I hooked this one on a piece of mackerel and an 8lb rod.
"Random, but I was stoked. It took nearly 20 minutes to land and pulled us nearly 150m off our mark. We also got some really good flathead and bream. It was a great day's fishing."
Fish of the Week
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