Estuary excitement
  |  First Published: October 2010

It's an exciting time to fish the estuaries around Merimbula, with bait and lure anglers in for some fun with bream, flathead, whiting, blackfish, mulloway and tailor.

Mega flathead are big movers at this time of year and every October some thumpers to around 95cm get caught, especially in Merimbula Lake.

There aren’t thousands of them but if you put in the effort and use the right techniques, you will be rewarded.

The Top Lake is the place to target them, with lures around 4” (10cm) ideal. I like natural colours in fish/shad patterns and work them with a methodical lift-drop presentation, and not too fast.

Look for areas around 4m to 8m deep with a sand/weed combination, ideal launching pads for big flathead as they wait for prey.

The bite of a big flattie is usually quite timid, just a gentle tick on the line, so don't be fooled thinking a small bite isn't a big fish.

Even though you’re using big lures you will also get a feed of eating-sized flatties around 50cm.

Please let the big female flathead go, don't leave them out of the water too long when taking photos and always swim them beside the boat before letting them swim off. This gives them time to pump water through their gills and get their bearings.

If we all do this there will be stacks of flatties for generations to come.

Post-spawn bream are heading in from the ocean and feeding in the lower sections and channels. Anglers fishing live bass yabbies and worms will be rewarded, though some patience may be needed with the pickers, especially during the day.

A flooding tide is best if fishing downstream of the main bridge and the opposite if fishing upstream. Whiting, blackfish and trevally will make up the rest of the bag.


Outside anglers fishing the bottom have done OK but it has been a little hit-and-miss. Some reasonable snapper to 2kg have been caught, though the average is around a kilo. Fresh bait like squid and tuna fillets drifted down through a berley trail are the key to consistent results.

A few locals say Horseshoe is well worth a look, as is Long Reef, but Lennards Island to the south always seems to have snapper at this time of year.

Those after sand flathead have done OK in around 35m on fish to 50cm.

A little wider has been very quiet but this month we may see albacore and school yellowfin turn up. A lot depends on current and water temperature but if it's still cool a stray southern bluefin tuna may be around. Trolling skirted pushers and bibbed minnows is the go.

Rock fishers have had mixed fortunes. Some days the salmon are prolific and others it’s like a desert.

The fish have been responding to ganged pilchards fished slowly on a constant retrieve and a few snapper have fallen to the same technique.

The hot spot is Tura Head; it’s a deep headland a decent walk in from Headland Drive but totally worth it, especially when the fish are on.

For blackfish and drummer on cabbage, try Short Point.

The beaches have fished reasonably well all year with salmon to 2kg the main targets. I'd be using a paternoster rig with a popper/bait combination to have all bases covered. You’d be amazed at how many salmon fall victim to the popper and not the bait.

There will be bream, whiting and yellow-eye mullet patrolling the gutters, try live beach worms, pipis and fresh prawns at beaches like Tura, North Tura and Merimbula Main.

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