Bumper beach fishing for whiting has been a highlight for anglers left underwhelmed by the prawn run and limited opportunities in recent wild weather.
The pre-Christmas prawn run has all but ended and Jason "One For" Nunn, from Fishermans Warehouse at Marks Point, said there were mixed results.
"Some guys struggled to get prawns and some did all right," he said. "Those that put in two or three consecutive nights fared a lot better.
"Size was down on previous years, which was a surprise, with the flushing out we've had. But as a result of the prawn run, squid numbers have fired up a bit better.
"There's plenty of estuary squid happening. They're getting a few in the channel and of course at the Dropover and down towards Murrays and towards Greenies.
"The other advantage to the prawn run is we've seen a good run of bream in the channel and we've seen some very nice whiting.
"One guy showed me a photo of one whiting getting up around the 45cm mark.
"Tube worms have worked particularly well, and live prawns for those guys who have had time to fish on the end of the run."
Beach fishing for whiting, especially with storms predicted in coming days, was an attractive option.
"I've had some great reports this week of beach fishing, for bream and whiting," Jason said.
"Off Blacksmiths beach, down to some of the Central Coast beaches and some of the guys at Stockton, reports are they have been fishing exceptionally well for whiting and some nice bream.
"That has been emphasised by the tail end of the prawn run, and that whiting will bat on now through the summer."
Brent "Hammer" Hancock, from Tackleworld Port Stephens, said whiting and flathead had been biting at the bay, where the offshore action had been put largely on hold.
"There's some really good flatties around," Brent said.
"Paul, from Port Stephens Estuary Charters, put one of his clients onto a 90-centimetre one this week.
"But it's more whiting than anything. If you're keen for a crack at the whiting or bream, surface lures are the go. And also live worms. We'll have a load of live worms in this weekend, so they are definitely worth a shot."
Jason said fishing was best in Lake Macquarie on the end of the outgoing tide.
"We've had some incredibly big tides this week, 2.6 and two metres," he said.
"The beauty of having so much water moving in and out, you can target bream and whiting on the tail end of the tide when it slows up and you have that bit of colour there.
"The channel is also fishing nice. I was talking to a guy who caught an 82cm flathead and a 50."
The flush out could make harbour fishing for jew also a good option, according to Simon from Tackle Power Sandgate.
"A bit more rain will stir some jew fish up, so you would certainly be looking for that kind of scenario," he said. "That movement of water will bring more prawns and bait down the river systems."
OFFSHORE WARM UP
Southerly changes coming this weekend have raised hopes of warmer waters offshore.
"The northerlies we've had during the week make the water go a bit cold, but once they back off we'll get that southerly trend," Brent said.
Jason said the southerly influence will trap warmer waters on the coast and there had already been positive signs of better fishing on the way offshore.
"We've already seen bonito on the coast, and when they start to turn up on the inshore reefs, you start to see trag, snapper and mulloway move into that sequence again," he said.
"So it's all just starting to unfold. Bonito is the first indicator the offshore scene is about to fire up. You get kingies mixed in with bonito, trag, jew on the reefs and still your flathead.
"There's a few marlin and dolphin fish out wide, we've all been chasing those the last month or two, and we're already seeing tiger sharks on the shelf, which is another indication water is starting to warm up quickly.
"I think this Christmas fishing will be quite good, even if there will be a bit of inclement weather and storms."
TODORIC ON TOP
Bob Todoric came out on top at the Wangi RSL Fishing Club's December competition last weekend when all 17 anglers stuck to the estuaries.
Usually a deep-sea angler, Todoric stayed in and cleaned up as the men's estuary winner. A 48cm bream weighing in at 1.38kg was the highlight.
Adam Milne was runner-up and Donna Milne won the ladies division ahead of Katie Arthur.
Bailey Whittaker (Fingerlings) and Bob Kennedy (Big Fish) were other winners.
Brett and Aaron Davis cleaned up on the sandwhiting, catching 16, with five between 38-42cm, on the flats on Friday night.