Tag Archives: Port Stephens Charters

Ambition report 17th.February’22

Port Stephens February’22

I have just spent 3 days, 3 very different days due to the varying weather conditions fishing out of Port Stephens. On the first day, last Thursday, because the usual bait gathering areas were virtually devoid of bait I decided to go wide. Levi and Matty were keen to get out there too. To say the weather Gods where kind would have been a gross understatement. But it was the only very calm day I encountered.

On leaving the entrance the water temperature was well over 23 degrees. Incredibly the radio had reported 25 degrees on the One Mile Beach. As it happens in 500 fathoms my sounder registered 28.7 degrees, a photo of which is below.

High Temperature
High Temperature

The water even in close looked fabulous, that deep indigo blue and it was the same all the way out, only the temperature changing.

I put the lures in at 80 fathoms in ideal great conditions. Even though I hadn’t seen any sign of life all the way out expectation was high. We trolled East to the second drop off then North towards Almark. A couple of times I noticed Mutton birds working around  what appeared to be Frigate Mackerel feeding  near plankton lines. I worked them for a while all to no avail then continued on. Then the shotgun let go in a screaming run. Bloody ‘Brad’ had done it again. After a good fight which taught Matty how tough being on the rod can be we got the fish, a nice Blue, to the boat were we swam it and let it go.

Blue Marlin
Blue Marlin

Friday and Saturday we didn’t fish due to the weather. On Sunday it was still pretty lively but predicted to ease. As a result I decided to give the inshore fishery a go. As expected live bait was hard to find but we did manage some. We put out some small lures and trolled up to the lighthouse then out to the FAD where we used some of the live bait to catch some Dollies, then back into Broughton. We did get more Dollies, some so small I don’t know how they ate the lures. Surprisingly we also caught a small Yellowfin.

So, after experiencing the inshore and seeing the results of those much more skilled on the inshore reefs than I it was back to the wide grounds.

It was Tony’s turn to catch a fish. I trolled out from the FAD and again not seeing much sign of life. We were in about 350 fathoms when again ‘Brad’ took off. All was looking good until the Marlin charged the boat and the hook just fell out. I could go into a long story about having banana’s on board and Tony saying that that was why we lost the fish. I don’t really think he believed me that banana phobia is bunkum until we hooked another Blue. This one came in and hit ‘Evil’ on the short corner first, missed, and went out taking ‘Brad’ on the way. This one put up a great fight and really made poor Tony work. He did a great job getting it to the boat where we took photo’s and let the Blue go.

In summary, though the fishing was tough they are there to be found. It appears that there are Small Black just North of Port and a few more being taken around Seal Rocks.
To me it looks as though the stage is set, we just need the proverbial actors. If and when the current eases as predicted the bait will build up and it will take off, I hope.

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Tight lines,
Ivan

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Ambition Report 11th. January’22

The weather looked too good to pass up yesterday. That, together with reports of Marlin and good-sized Mahi Mahi was enough for me to do a social day. I generally do these when I’m desperate to get out to sea.

We, Warren Knight, Elliot Wasserman and I headed out on a beautiful morning planning to try for  Black Marlin and good-sized Mahi Mahi in close then work out wider to see what we could find.

For this time of year the water is remarkably warm, so I thought the Blacks should be here, showing 23.8C at the Heads. Out across the Whale and the Wave Rider there was heaps of bait, but nothing was tempted by the Pakula’s out the back.

We worked out over the 12 Mile and again so much bait that you would have thought this would be Marlin heaven. We continued out towards Browns and in 80 fathoms the bait was stacked up, showing all the signs of being under attack. However, after a fruitless half hour with no action I moved on. At Browns the water looked a little greenish and the temperature near 25 degrees Centigrade, so I headed back inshore to try and find the temperature break. There was no well-defined break but in eighty fathoms the water was a lot clearer and bluer so I worked North zigzagging between the shelf and eighty fathoms.

The first strike came on the shotgun. The Marlin ran about fifty metres and dropped the lure, typical Stripy. Frustrating indeed but at least there was one Marlin about. Continuing on, a short while later another hit on the shotgun. Elliot took the rod while Warren started clearing the lines. As luck would have it another Marlin hit the short corner while Warren was winding it in, double hookup. Sadly, Elliot’s fish dropped the lure after five minutes but Warren’s was going hell for leather.

Ultimately, we got Warren’s Stripy to the boat and it gained its freedom in what is called a ‘Çharter Boat Release’ sadly losing one of my favourite lures in the process.

Continuing on we had another strike on the rigger. It hit while Warren was putting the line up and received a nasty cut, probably lucky that the fish didn’t hook up.

We’d all had a good time and were feeling the effects of the sun and the humidity so I turned for home and just then we had another strike and another Stripy was greyhounding  heading for the horizon. This fish fought like a demon and gave Elliot a really hard time   but he persevered and brought the Stripy to the boat were Warren tagged it.

A great end to a good day.

Something I find intriguing with regard to bait and bait schools is that there is obviously a time when staying with the bait is the thing to do. But on many occasions the fish are well away from the bait decisions, decisions.

Tightlines,
Ivan

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Ambition Report 1st.January’22

First of a Happy New Year to everyone and hopefully a Healthy one too.
I went out finally after what seemed an eternity of bad weather. Reports came in of Striped Marlin around the shelf and good-sized Dollies appearing too.

Mahi Mahi
I decided to stay in close for the first couple of hours for a couple of reasons. Firstly the water is exceptionally warm for this time of year and secondly, generally around Christmas, New Year the Black Marlin show up on the inshore reefs.
I ran some small Pakulas in my favourite colours and headed North. Conditions were fabulous to say the least. We passed over huge bait schools, didn’t mark anything but it certainly looked the goods.

Inshore…
After going around the Whale a couple of times we had a hit on the Lumo and a small, very small Black came to the surface but sadly missed the hooks. Further on another strike but this one stayed attached and we landed a Mahi Mahi, on one of Peter’s Fish Prints, which went 110 cm. A surprising fish to catch so close to shore.
In our travels we found several private FAD’s and caught another couple of Mahi Mahi’s.

Baby Wahoo
Baby Wahoo
Offshore…

A couple of boats on the shelf reported catching Striped Marlin however they were really spread out. One tagged by John Sartori from his boat Shoki was out in 400 fathoms were he also saw some Yellowfin jumping. Another a Black was taken around the 12 Mile.

A surprising catch, also inshore was a very small Wahoo (see the photo attached) subsequently released from David Moses’ boat My Molly. Wahoo are a rare catch off Sydney these days.
Well, we continued in our hunt going wide to the Bait Station and beyond. There was heaps of bait pretty well everywhere, there was bird activity, the stage was set but sadly for us the show didn’t get under way.
The fact is, it is still fairly early in the season but with the amount of bait both inshore, out around the shelf and wider it is surely only a matter of time
Tight lines,
PS : I will be travelling up to Port Stephens on the January 22nd. And if anyone wants to come for the trip up, fishing all the way, give me a call.
Also I still have a few days available up there in February.

Ambition report 22nd.September’21

Mid-October opening, start fishing, start fishing, start fishing…

Well thankfully it seems as though we are  on track to open up  Mid-October. I am pretty sure there are lots of anglers out there just waiting to reconstitute the salt concentration in their blood.

Sydney October Yellowfin
Sydney October Yellowfin

 

Sydney October Yellowfin
Sydney October Yellowfin

 

 

 

 

 

 

It appears from those who have been able to get out to sea that we have missed a really good Tuna bite. Though it is too late to expect the Bluefin the Yellowfin are still to be found off Sydney. From what I have seen on the charts there should also be a Marlin or two to be found.

Just to remind those who might have forgotten I have uploaded a couple of video’s from October’s past to show that the Tuna season is not over done.

So yes, we are ready to go fishing just as soon as the lockdown is lifted. And yes I am taking bookings from the 20th. October’21 out of Sydney and I’ll be chartering off Port Stephens during February next year. The only proviso is that you must be Double vaxxed.

So come on mid-October…

Tight lines,
Ivan

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Ambition report 17th. February’21

At Port Stephens  Black Marlin are the name of the game at present.
The Port Stephens Black Marlin of varying  sizes are chasing bait on the inner reefs. A lot of anglers expecting to find the usual inshore run of 20 to 30 kilo’s fish are being beaten on light tackle by Blacks  getting up to 80kgs. with reports of even larger fish too.
 Mel first Port Stephens Black......
Mel first Black……
Sadly, I think mostly because of the weather, the offshore scene is bit of an unknown. A few boats have ventured out wide but not with any great success. Further South, around the Norah Canyons, the results are a little better though still not what we would expect at this time of year.
Troy's first Port Stephens Black......
Troy’s first Black……

It will be interesting to see what happens over the next two weeks with many boats fishing the local tournaments here at Port Stephens.

If the weather doesn’t stabalise there will be an awful lot of boats on those inshore reefs.
I for one can’t wait to go out wide…
Tight lines,
Ivan

Ambition report 12th.January’21

Well the Marlin bite is on, any Game Fisherman who hasn’t heard about the Marlin bite off Sydney must live in a cave.

The Marlin bite came on a while ago but really stepped up to a new level several days ago. The bait in the form of Slimy Mackerel and Yellowtail came in from the shelf with the East Australia Current and built up on the shelf and inshore reefs. At the same time the annual run of Black Marlin reached Sydney waters; perfect timing.

Usually this run of Blacks are on the smaller size but this year there are some good sized fish among them. Those using lighter lines are having a lot of unexpected fun fighting Blacks of seventy kilo’s and larger.

At the same time further offshore, around the shelf, Striped Marlin have turned up in numbers. They are fairly widespread but if you are lucky enough to find them you will be rewarded with multiple hook ups. Striped Marlin being what they are can be difficult to hook on lures but by using bait, either Skipping, live or switching you increase the odds. Also, as with the Blacks, there are some larger fish among them.

I was out on Saturday in quite a lively sea and because I couldn’t find the bait was using lures. However I did manage one Striped Marlin from three strikes which was frustrating especially since several boats further South and North had had multiple hook-ups. What was interesting was that the water wasn’t terribly warm at only 21.6C and on the shelf green in colour whereas inshore it was a good blue colour. However neither the colour nor the temperature seemed to affect the fish the only problem for most was getting a solid hook up.

Sunday was a totally different day, dead calm and the water a lot warmer. Inshore there was a lot more bait and a better bite than the previous day. Several boats ended up tagging multiple Blacks however it was still apparently hard work. I didn’t bother looking for bait inshore and headed directly for the shelf because of my results the previous day. I trolled lures for most of the day only getting one strike which didn’t hold. There was plenty of bait so after finding a good school up high we managed to jig some. They weren’t as big as the inshore Slimy Mackerel but we rigged them and went hunting with skip baits. I won’t go on with the boring details but we never saw another fish. Meanwhile both South and North of us there were boats doing well with multiple strikes and hook ups.

The one thing of interest for me anyway, was that the water along the shelf started to warm up and at one stage I registered over 26 degrees though it was still green. Over the radio a couple of boats further out talked of Blue Marlin which was highly credible considering the temperature and bait.

In general it does look like a great start to the Marlin season so here’s hoping.

Many years ago one of the greats of Game Fishing, one Jack Farrell told me that the wet years are the good years for Game Fishing. So, with the onset of a ‘La Nina’ weather system which promises rain we could indeed expect a good season.

P.S. I’m off to Port Stephens soon and still have a few free days left so get in fast…

Tight lines,
Ivan

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Ambition report 20th.December’20

December Reports :-

Reports were coming in of Striped Marlin and some good sized Mahi Mahi around the shelf and the odd Yellowfin further out. So after  I cancelled  a couple of charters because of the Virus I decided I was going out no matter what. I received quick responses from members wanting to join me after a post to the club’s facebook page so all was set.

Unfortunately due to cloud cover the only SST’s available were from several days beforehand but I’d been told the temps were around the 22 to 23 C so it was all systems go.

The forecast was for light winds and calm seas. However  15 to 18 knots is not exactly light winds and the sea was a mess with a residual swell coming from the yesterday’s Southerly. So, that together with the bounce back from the cliffs made for an uncomfortable ride from which one of the crew succumbed.

We put the lures in just short of the shelf and headed out marking bait as we went but it was all deep. One of the boats out there, ‘Grey Goose’ , had already raised a Marlin but no hook-up. Later on a Mako hit one of their lures; it is not uncommon for Mako’s to hit lures and just to prove it wasn’t a fluke they raised another later in the day.

We continued marking bait and found some birds working on what looked like to be Striped tuna but we raised nothing after chasing them for a while. What we did find sadly was that the warmer water had moved out. The best I found was 21.6 C and that after a temperature break of 0.3 C .

It was while working the break that we had a double hook-up. Marlin was the call, but the sight of green and gold told a different story. We landed two good sized Dollies, supper was provided.

December Mahi Mahi
December Mahi Mahi

Several other boats reported hits from Striped Marlin, I think one tagged fish was estimated to weigh only 50 kilo’s. And then it was our turn, the shot gun went off, the Marlin took a bit of line then just dropped off. Damned Stripies, however he was still there following the lure. He/she had at least four other shots and missed each time and eventually lost interest.

We pulled the lure in to check it out and I found the leader chafed for nearly a metre above the lure. I know it happens all the time but it is so frustrating, they obviously know they want the lure but just keep missing it. Maybe they should get some lessons from their Black and Blue cousins.

So, that was the day, a good feed to take home and calm seas for the run.

I have booked in at Port Stephens from the 24th.January until the end of February. Not as long as previous years due to the virus but I hope next year’s season will be as good if not better than this year’s. So, if you do want to catch a Marlin, Port Stephens is the place to do it…

Tight lines,
Ivan

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Ambition report 14th. December’20

PORT STEPHENS:

With the warm ocean currents moving in closer and the water temperature out wide approaching 24 degrees it was time to give it a go. Added to that there have been reports of Black Marlin in close further North and even sightings off Sydney.

Back here because of the warm ocean currents moving in reports of Striped Marlin both tagged and lost are becoming more frequent. I heard one report of what sounds like a Blue Marlin from Mark Gunning who fought a big Marlin for 2 hours before losing it. Surprisingly those Yellowfin are still around however they do take a bit of finding.

Therefore it was with great expectation that I went out with David Lo  and Jamie McKay on his boat ‘Groundswell’. As an added bonus even the weather came good for us.

Sadly the weather was the best part of the day. We put the gear in just before the shelf hoping for a Striped Marlin and headed for Browns and then towards New Zealand.

Nothing eventuated until we were somewhere near Heatons where we spotted lots of Mutton birds working. Even from a distance we could see the water shimmering with what we thought were baitfish. As we got closer we could make out huge numbers of what looked like Striped or maybe Mackerel tuna scooting around in the waves chasing small bait.

We worked the area for quite a while with great anticipation but all to no avail.  Consequently we finally gave up and headed for home and on the way have a shot at one of the FADs. One of the guys on board, Grayson, is a keen spear fisherman and wanted to go for a dive there. As an aside, after hearing the stories and seeing the photo’s of the Kingfish he has speared off Sydney and I mean 20 to 30 kilo fish, I could only wonder why more aren’t caught by anglers. Maybe they should try New Zealand methods, live salmon.

Grayson jumped in at the FAD and came back telling of lots of undersize Kingfish with a few Mahi Mahi amongst them.  So out came the light gear and soft plastics. We had a bit of fun catching the Kings but sadly couldn’t raise a Mahi Mahi.

Next we went and had a look at the 12 Mile but that also was a waste of time. The sounder didn’t show anything and the guys jigging only got sore backs.

All in all it was a good day, great boat, good company and good weather.

It does look promising out there. December is always a tough month both weather and fish wise but it will get better. Jack Farrell, one of the great SGFC game fishermen always said that the wet years were the good ones. So with the forecast of a ‘La Nina’ weather cycle we could be lucky.

I have booked in at Port Stephens from the 24th.January until the end of February. Not as long as previous years due to the virus but I hope next year’s season will be as good if not better than this year’s. So, if you do want to catch a Marlin, Port Stephens is the place to do it…

Tight lines,
Ivan

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Ambition report 29th. November’20

Sydney Fishing
Off Sydney fishing –  as I sit here listening to 30 knots of North Westerly howl against the windows, I am glad I’m not at sea. Especially so because the fishing off Sydney has been less than mediocre.
Off Sydney the Kingfish bite has been the only positive scene outside. The Kingies have been biting well with lots of fish over the magic metre.
A metre Kingy...
A metre Kingy…
The only problem, well one of the only problems is in locating the fish. The Kings are ranging between the inshore, offshore, harbour and coastal reefs, only by checking out the various spots or good intel will allow you to locate them.
Consequently the other problem is that as soon as word gets out every man and his dog jumps in. Therefore those who find the Kings are being very secretive, some to the point of distraction but who can blame them. On a couple of occasions I have seen up to forty boats on one spot. I’m sure they must spook the schools with all their sounders pinging the depths.
Kingfish....
Kingfish….
On the couple of occasions I have had a shot at the Kingfish bait was a problem for me, probably because I start out too late. However perseverance pays off and by avoiding all the boats on the regular spots I found enough. Ironically when I did get onto the fish the biggest a 105 cm. fish was taken on a jig.
Game fishing
Offshore Game fishing has been for the most part hopeless. There are increasing sightings of Marlin and a couple caught. Yellowfin are also still showing up but generally to the South, from the Southern canyons down past Woollongong. To give an idea how poor the Game fishing is off Sydney at present all I heard about from last week-end was Sydney boat ‘Gale Force’ managing an Albacore near Browns and the Botany Bay boat ‘Marquis’ a decent Yellowfin and someone on a a trailer boat catching a Striped Marlin.
At this time of year most club anglers are out there vying for their prestigious ‘First Marlin’ trophy. Looking at the latest currents and Altimetry it all seems to be coming together. The Zero line is within reach and there is some current from the North wider offshore pushing in. All we need now is for the weather to be kind.
Tight lines,
Ivan
LINKS…

P.S.  I will be available at Port Stephens from 1st.February for the month a must especially for those who want to have the best chance at catching a Marlin. If this year’s results are any indication of what to expect next yearit should be a great season – Call me…

Ambition report 26th.October’20

Fishing for Game Fish during November   can run hot or cold. It is a time when the cooler offshore water starts to warm up under the influence of  the East Australia Current.   As summer progresses the EAC moves closer inshore  and within our reach .

During November  along with the EAC come the bait fish namely Slimy Mackerel, Sauries, Garfish, Cowanyoung and Striped Tuna . Naturally the predators  follow. Striped, Black and Blue Marlin as well as Mahi Mahi, Spearfish and  all the other great Gamefish not to mention the appearance of big Tiger sharks move closer inshore with the current.

Ethans Mahi Mahi
Ethans Mahi Mahi

November is the month that heralds the changeover from  the Winter to Summer species it is also the start of the storm season.

I have noticed over  many years that the leading edge of the EAC often bring with it an early unseasonal run of big Mahi Mahi and Striped Marlin with more than one  early season Spearfish having been encountered. So far this  year as well as a good run of big Mahi Mahi, Yellowfin tuna and Albacore are adding to the mix and continue to tease us offshore.

October Spearfish
October Spearfish

So as we enter a ‘La Nina’ weather pattern, meaning we’ll have warmer water offshore  and more rain to flush out the rivers and estuaries  we could and I emphasise could have a bumper season ahead.

On another note I’ll  be available at Port Stephens from the end of January until early March. If the Marlin season next year is anywhere near as good as this year’s it won’t be one to miss. Sadly this year’s season was shortened by COVID,  let’s hope not again.

Tight lines,
Ivan

LINKS…

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