Tag Archives: Port Stephens Charters

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

Weather and Sea State :

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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

Weather and Sea State :

Buoyweather
Bureau of Meteorology
Radar
Seabreeze
Weatherzone
Weathercams
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C.S.I.R.O.
N.S.W Bluelink

Fishing Tackle :

Pakula Tackle
Global Tackle
Otto’s Tackle
Melton Tackle
Aftco
Campbell’s Pro Tackle

Electronics :

Furuno
Keogh’s Marine Electronics
Olectric Systems

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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…

Weather and Sea State :

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Fishing Tackle :

Pakula Tackle
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Aftco
Campbell’s Pro Tackle

Electronics :

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Olectric Systems

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Ambition report 18th.October’20

Wild and Woolley is the only way to describe the ocean on Saturday. It doesn’t look too bad in the video but let me tell you the 25 knots of North Easterly pushing against the Northerly current created a very short and wild sea.

We had only just put the lures in the water when over the air came a distress call. A boat was sinking with four on board.  Consequently I marked their position and found I was twelve miles and 45 minutes away. Fortunately for them another boat was much closer and eventually got them aboard. It was a wild sea.   As a result I turned around  and went back to fishing.
I can’t imagine what would have been going through those guy’s minds as the boat filled with water. I suppose there was some comfort in knowing that via the radio everyone out there was willing to help. The importance of a good radio cannot be understated. To top it off another boat (I don’t know the exact details) was found floundering near the shelf with no power. Fortunately for them a passing boat was there to help, again a happy ending.
Furthermore it should be remembered that the ocean can be most unforgiving therefore being prepared is essential.
Anyway back to the fishing. There were a few Yellowfin 30 to 35 kilo’s taken South of Browns. Unfortunately I never got the chance to try further North.  Since the sea was still building and considering the clients  returning home seemed the right option.

Yellowfin
Yellowfin
It is apparent that these ‘fin are sticking around and are very spread out. Before the week-end they were being caught from wide of the Car Park at Port Stephens down to past the Southern Canyons. Also sightings of Striped Marlin, as well as at least one capture, are becoming more common.
Over the next few weeks the warm current will move in closer and should bring the first of the tropical namely Mahi Mahi and hopefully motivate the Striped Marlin.
Reasonable weather is all we need…
Tight lines,
Ivan

Ambition Report 20th.September’20

The Mighty Yellowfin Tuna:

At last something to write about…

The Mighty Yellowfin
The Mighty Yellowfin

For weeks I have been  hearing about the Yellowfin Tuna off Port Stephens   and the Bluefin Tuna well out of reach  down South not getting any closer than Kiama.  The action well out reach of most Sydney based boats especially since the weather  has been less than favourable.

 

 

Finally the mighty Yellowfin Tuna  at least are getting closer.

I went out on Saturday a little more optimistic than usual  because I’d noticed a couple of long liners working wide and  North of Broken Bay. Also a warm  current  pushing down with the break  almost within my reach.  However I was a little apprehensive  also since the weather report  was a little bit iffy.  We were going anyway, worst case scenario  we’d be coming home with the weather best case the bureau was wrong.

We started trolling in 300 fathoms after passing through some very

A Double on Yellowfin
A Double on Yellowfin

green water of   18.5 degrees which was a lot better than the 17 at the shelf. There was still  very little  life , other than Whales and the occasional Albatross in the area. But with still 14 miles to  the break. I noticed a blip on the radar, too small for a tanker and too large and far away for a  Game boat, possibly  a Long Liner. As we got closer to it , about 5 miles away, the water colour changed and warmed  then out of the blue a double strike. After a relatively short fight we landed two Yellowfin 25 to 30 kilo’s.

A little hope…

Consequently I worked the area but there was no sign of life, still neither

The Mighty Yellowfin
Mighty Yellowfin

birds nor bait so I moved on,  out towards the Long Liner. After another hour of searching I decided to head back to where we caught the fish.  You wouldn’t believe it, we were within a couple of hundred metres off the spot when we had another strike, this one a much bigger fish. After a solid fight that only a Yellowfin  Tuna can put up we landed a 50 kilo fish much to the excitement of the crew , as you can hear in the video, who had never caught a Gamefish before.

September Yellowfin
September Yellowfin

 

 

 

 

 

 

And so we headed for home, thirty five miles away.

With some luck the current will move in closer and bring with it the  Tuna and bait and hopefully some Marlin will follow.

Tight lines,
Ivan

LINKS…

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Electronics :

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Ambition report 19th.May’20

Port Stephens in view...
Port Stephens in view…

It has certainly been a long time between drinks on Ambition. At least now it looks like the bars are opening again. This metaphor for chartering is bringing some hope. We may not be able to take our full capacity of anglers but at least we’ll be able to get out there and get that much needed refill of salt into our veins.

Interestingly for those who have been able to get out results have been pretty good even though for some fish, namely Kingfish it has been a day to day proposition on both the inshore and offshore reefs.

Browns has apparently been doing ok for those deep dropping but over the last few days the current has made it difficult.

The Game Fishing scene is also hot and cold but that could be due to lack of fishing pressure. There have been a couple of Blue Marlin tagged and a couple of Striped Marlin lost. There are also a couple of Long Liners still working out wide.  However I haven’t heard of any Yellowfin being taken recently.

I went out on Sunday for a look and stayed out cubing into the evening. We didn’t have any great success but did find there was heaps of bait .   We found Slimies, Frigate Mackerel and Striped tuna well out beyond the shelf. In fact while we were cubing all we raised was a huge school of Slimies however nothing was eating them.

Being optimistic as you have to be to be a fisherman, I would like to believe that if the bait’s there the fish will come…

Tight lines,
Ivan

LINKS
Weather and  Sea State  

Buoyweather
Bureau of Meteorology
Radar
Seabreeze
Weatherzone
Weather cams
Ripcharts
C.S.I.R.O.
N.S.W Bluelink

Fishing Tackle :

Pakula Tackle
Global Tackle
Otto’s Tackle
Melton Tackle
Aftco
Campbell’s Pro Tackle
Electronics :

Furuno
Keogh’s Marine Electronics
Olectric Syste

Ambition report 2nd.March’20

Port Stephens Billfish in the form of Striped Marlin along with Blacks and the appearance of Blue Marlin were on the bite last week-end. Also amongst the Billfish  a good run of Mahi Mahi.

 

The Port Stephen Billfish turned on again last week-end. They were

Port Stephens March'20
Port Stephens March’20

big fish too. I heard of Stripies around the one hundred kilo mark and of at least one Black estimated at a hundred and fifty kilo’s by a very experienced skipper. Though they weren’t  in the same numbers as the Interclub the previous week there were  still enough  to go round. As usual it was a matter of find the bait and find the Marlin, so what’s new.

The baitfish along the shelf  were flighty and  difficult to stay in touch  with, however that is where the Marlin were. Those guys dunking bait into the schools didn’t fare as well as those covering ground by skipping rigged baits  or trolling live baits. Also, to make life more interesting for those dunking baits there were quite a few Whaler sharks in the mix.

Port Stephens March'20
Port Stephens March’20

The boats trolling lures also raised plenty of Marlin but as is usual the hook up rate not as good as with baits especially for the Striped Marlin. They did have the advantage though of raising the occasional Blue Marlin some of which I heard were on the large size. Apparently you didn’t have to go far to find the Blues either,  just wide of the ‘Car Park’ and other well known areas just over the shelf.

AMBITION…

I fished away from the crowds hovering over and trolling around the bait schools, looking for my own patch. I had quite a successful week-end skipping baits. The highlight, was after marking three or four fish under the boat , seeing four big Striped Marlin trying to eat two baits. We did hook two of them but unfortunately one was tail wrapped and while trying to keep up with it the other dropped off. It was pandemonium for a while  but we did get one of them.

Port Stephens March'20
Port Stephens March’20

So, Port Stephens Marlin. It would be hard to find a more productive area for catching all three species of our Marlin as well as all the other tropical species. The currents the bait  add up to a game fish  have.

Tight lines,
Ivan

LINKS
Weather and  Sea State  

Buoyweather
Bureau of Meteorology
Radar
Seabreeze
Weatherzone
Weather cams
Ripcharts
C.S.I.R.O.
N.S.W Bluelink

Fishing Tackle :

Pakula Tackle
Global Tackle
Otto’s Tackle
Melton Tackle
Aftco
Campbell’s Pro Tackle
Electronics :

Furuno
Keogh’s Marine Electronics
Olectric Systems

Ambition report 25th.February’20

This year’s Port Stephens Interclub could be seen as a make up for last year’s dilemma. The Marlin really turned it on. The Shootout the previous week-end  was a preview of what was to come.

Unbelievably the weather held off for the full three days of the Port Stephens Interclub tournament. Resulting in around 430 Marlin tagged by just over 110 boats over three days at the Port Stephens  Interclub .  Averaging over one Marlin a boat per day, not  a bad result.  The full results for the tournament may be seen a the NSWGFA  Facebook or web site.

Day 1
Interclub action
Interclub action

We on Ambition didn’t do too badly. We opted to skip baits to cover some ground and locate the bait.  I went well North of the crowd at the ‘Car Park’ and managed three tagged Marlin over the day, catching the first within minutes of putting out our first bait.  Below us at the ‘Car Park’  there was a bite happening but because of the numbers there  the individual results weren’t  so great. None the less some of the local boats stood out from the crowd.

Day two
Interclub action
Interclub action

I went back to where I’d been the day before but all had changed, the bait had gone. It was much the same all along the shelf. What bait there was, was holding deep .  After finally jigging up enough to use I again opted to skip baits and cover ground. I worked my way further North, around November 9, where a few boats were catching fish bombing the deep bait. However after a frustrating time watching several boats catch fish   I changed over to dropping baits on the bait schools , not a style of fishing I enjoy, and ended up hooking and tagging a Whaler Shark after a lengthy fight. So, that was enough for me.

It was back to skipping baits. We were a short distance from the crowd dunking their baits when a nice Striped Marlin hammered one of our skippies and we were on. After a short fight the Stripy was tagged and the baits  put back out . Unexpectedly just after we had set the baits a Black took a skippy and was off more in the air than the water. It was quickly tagged  and we were off again.  It took a while but again on the outside of the crowd dunking slimies we hooked and tagged another Striped Marlin, our third for the day.

Day 3

We headed out with great expectations, back to the same area as the first day. The bait was there again  and in fairly quick time we tagged two Striped Marlin, but then the wheels fell off. The bait disappeared  so it was off searching again. There was a bite happening further South . When we arrived several boats were fighting fish and all looked good.

Interclub action
Interclub action

I searched and searched but couldn’t find any bait. There were obviously plenty of Marlin and lots of boats hooking up  but where was the bait. We unfortunately didn’t end up catching any more fish . Later on talking to other skippers the story was much the same. Whereas some did find bait most didn’t but the marlin were definitely on the bite.

I theorised that the bait was quite sparse, the schools dispersed and broken up by the Marlin to a degree where most sounders couldn’t pick them up. Whereas those boats with  more powerful sounders could however mark the bait.

There were a few boats that went out wide and did find Blue Marlin. Two that I know of lost what they called very big fish. The Blues are usually at their best in Autumn as can be see from previous year’s results especially further South around Sydney.

Hopefully the bait will remain in the area and the bite will continue but if it doesn’t it will certainly be worth having a look out wide.

Tight lines,
Ivan

LINKS
Weather and  Sea State  

Buoyweather
Bureau of Meteorology
Radar
Seabreeze
Weatherzone
Weather cams
Ripcharts
C.S.I.R.O.
N.S.W Bluelink

Fishing Tackle :

Pakula Tackle
Global Tackle
Otto’s Tackle
Melton Tackle
Aftco
Campbell’s Pro Tackle
Electronics :

Furuno
Keogh’s Marine Electronics
Olectric Systems