Port Stephens is about 220 km north of Sydney and offers a mixed bag of quality species. In the estuaries, bream, flathead, mulloway and whiting dominate the catch while beach anglers do well on tailor, whiting and mulloway. Tomaree Head on the southern headland is a famous land-based gamefishing location for a wide range of species including cobia, longtail and mackerel tuna.
In addition to this top-class inshore fishery, the Port Stephens area gets even better offshore, with world-class blue-water fishing for game fish such as striped, black and blue marlin, cobia, wahoo and sharks.
A favourite area off Port Stephens is ‘The Car Park’. It is a 40 km run and many anglers launch at Little Beach, close to Nelson Bay. This ramp can handle three boats at a time, but sand build-up can be a problem and a 4WD is sometimes necessary. The Car Park is situated along the 160 m line about 1.5 km inside the Continental Shelf (GPS: S33.02.688, E153.24.403), and runs along the inside edge of an underwater canyon where eddies concentrate bait schools. The bait schools attract mainly striped or black marlin, with a few blue marlin and sailfish thrown into the mix.
The average striped marlin is 60–80 kg with the occasional 100 kg fish being hooked. Black marlin range from 20 kg up to 300 kg. January and February are the best months for marlin, but March and April bring the cobia into the islands, and there are other species like longtail tuna, yellowtail kingfish, wahoo, and the delectable and seriously pretty dolphinfish. When the game fish are not cooperating anglers can always go after snapper.
Broughton Island has marine park restrictions although some areas on the eastern side are still accessible. Anglers should check with the Marine Parks Authority NSW. The reefs and gutters around this island are famous for their snapper, with fish to 9 kg that take soft plastic lures as well as bait. Little Gibber, a small headland inside Broughton Island, is a favourite for longtail tuna during April.