NSW: Port Macquarie Offshore Fishing

Port of Call - Port Macquarie

NSW: Port Macquarie Offshore Fishing

This gamefishing hotspot, four hours drive north of Sydney, has lots of appeal for bluewater anglers. Alistair McGlashan opens the door.

Where Is Port Macquarie?

Port Macquarie is found on the mid-north coast of NSW on the banks of the Hasting River. Almost 400km north of Sydney, it is roughly a four hour drive up the Pacific Highway. Situated just 11km off the Highway, Port Macquarie has always been a popular seaside tourist destination. In recent years the town has expanded tremendously and is now more like a small city rather than a seaside village!

Facilities in Port Macquarie

Port Macquarie is a town with the lot and has ample facilities to suite all budgets, from luxurious beachside apartments to backpacker hostels. On the boating side of things there are a number of ramps that can easily handle boats up to 7m right in town, as well as a small marina and even a charter wharf. Importantly, there is also fuel available on the water for visiting cruisers, while for trailerboats there is no shortage of multi pump service stations that have heaps of room to swing a big trailerboat into.

NSW: Port Macquarie Offshore Fishing 3

Targeted Species in Port Macquarie

With the East Australian Current often pushing in tight against the coast, Port Macquarie can produce just about anything from billfish to tuna. It is probably most famous for its blue marlin out wide and its run of small blacks in close. A half hour run up the coast will bring you to Point Plomer. Part of the Limeburners Creek National Park this small headland juts out and catches the current, creating an eddy which is quite often green on one side and cobalt blue on the other. Working the edge of these fertile waters with live baits it is possible to find multiple small blacks, along with mahi mahi and hammerhead sharks during the warmer months. Incidentally, a few miles out from the point there is another reef which can also be worth a look when things are quite inshore.

NSW: Port Macquarie Offshore Fishing 6
NSW: Port Macquarie Offshore Fishing 5

Alternatively, for anglers keen on larger quarry there is a plateau that rises up outside the shelf. When the current is really running this plateau is significant enough to cause pressure waves on the surface. This spot is renowned for its run of blue marlin during the warmer months and every year someone encounters a true horse in these waters. Blue marlin aside, stripes and blacks are also common in the same waters and can be found pretty much year round. Yellowfin tuna also turn up along the shelf and although most common during the cooler months, some big ones have been caught in the middle of summer. While fishing the Golden Lure Tournament a few years back Andrew Paas landed a 68.6kg yellowfin and a couple of others in the 40kg range were also weighed, which shows you should always expect the unexpected at Port!

One species that grows to mammoth proportions in these waters are the mahi mahi. Every summer as the first of the hot tropical waters push down the coast these guys are riding it in droves. Trolling lures has always been the best technique and for some reason these monster sized mahi mahi are always out in the open away from flotsam. Alistair McGlashan pinned a 25.2kg model a few years back while billfishing in January.

The biggest downside to Port Macquarie is the entrance to the Hastings River. Shallow and sandy, it seems to have steep pressure waves constantly blocking the entrance. As with any bar, never attempt it in rough conditions and always drop in to the local tackle shop or speak to Coastal Patrol for advice before attempting to cross it.

Side panel in Port Macquarie

Charterboats
Sea Quest Fishing Charters
Ph: (02) 6583 8483
M: 0419 448 102

Ocean Star Fishing Charters
Ph: (02) 6584 6965
M: 0416 240 877

Tournaments in Port Macquarie

The Port Macquarie Gamefishing Club hosts the Golden Lure Tournament every January drawing boats from up and down the coast. A well run tournament, the Golden Lure has some great prizes and is always fun to fish.

Getting to Port Macquarie

Port Macquarie is just 15 minutes off the Pacific Highway, some four hours north of Sydney. Although the road seems to be constantly subject to road works, it is getting better which makes the trip easier when lugging a big trailerboat up the coast. For those coming from Brisbane the road is a bit worse and with 600km to travel, it will take you closer to eight hours. Alternatively you can always fly in with regular flights from Sydney!

Author: Alistair McGlashan
Photography: Alistair McGlashan; Matt Smith