Top time to wet a line
  |  First Published: December 2010

What a great time of year to wet a line around Narooma!

Outside, sport fishers are licking their lips in anticipation of what they can expect over coming weeks.

It will really depend on what you want to target, with striped marlin one species high on anglers’ list.

January is prime time for stripes, with the continental shelf the place to troll skirted pusher lures early in the season.

Quite often big fish are found at this time of year and I wouldn’t be surprised if a few 150kg-plus models turned up.

The water is already 21° at the shelf and full of striped tuna and slimy mackerel, which is great to see.

A big blue marlin is also possible although most that are hooked are on tackle used aimed at the striped marlin so are frequently lost.

We do have a reasonable blue marlin fishery off our coast but you certainly do need the right crew, boat, tackle and expertise to land that trophy fish.

At Montague Island it’s all systems go with kingfish to 8kg common. They are responding to jigs and live bait.

The north-east corner of the island has been the hot spot lately but that could change anytime soon. As to where the fish will be found, a lot depends on what the current is doing.

A general rule is if the current is pushing south, the north end of the island and Fowlhouse Reef are the go and if it’s pushing north, the south-west corner and Auginish Rock host the hot bite.

Of course, there are exceptions to the rules and if you see a bunch of boats in close proximity to each other then there’s a good chance they’re onto a school of kings.

Mixed in with the kings are huge bonito, with some up to 8kg – massive fish that are full of fight.


If you’re after the bread-and-butter species then you’re in for some tasty fillets. Snapper averaging a kilo are prolific on most reefs with morwong also abundant. Some of the mowies are nudging 3kg and at that size they pull quite well and aren’t bad in the pan.

A few locals are getting bag limits on each outing though most are doing the right thing and keeping only enough for a feed. I expect this action to continue for a while yet.

A paternoster rig used on the drift and baited with fresh squid is all that’s required.

In the estuaries, Wagonga Inlet and the Tuross system are on fire.

Wagonga is awesome, with everything that swims having a go. Guiding there over the past week we managed to catch and release five mulloway and seven flathead over 80cm – pretty good fishing in my books.

These trophy fish have all been caught on big soft plastics around the tailor schools, which are abundant throughout the system.

We have been concentrating on the main basin and Fosters Bay but the fish are widespread and this action will continue for a while yet as the system is loaded with whitebait schools.

The upper reaches have been good for bream and whiting on surface lures, especially if you focus on the edges.

There have been a few bream among the oyster racks but they are a little spooky.

At Tuross, flathead are again the main targets with some models over 90cm.

Bait and soft plastic have been successful with the River, main basin and lower reaches all producing.

Tuross is still open to the sea so water temperatures have played a fair part as to where you fish within the tidal cycle.

We’ve been having better results upstream on the outgoing tide and downstream on the making tide.

The surface fishing has also picked up with bream and whiting now playing the game. Poppers and walk baits have worked around the weed fringes.

If you’re after bass there are fish to 48cm taking spinnerbaits upstream of Commerang bridge.


On the beaches, the usual suspects like salmon, tailor and bream continue to do the right thing and any beach with a half-decent gutter is producing for those using fresh bait beach worms, pipis and pilchards, especially in the mornings, especially on a flood tide.

We should see some cracking whiting to 40cm turn up just past the shore dump, so a long cast is not needed. Just remember to use very light line on a running-sinker rig for best results.

Beaches to try include Brou, Narooma Main and Tilba, to the south.

Those fishing the rocks for salmon, tailor, bonito, kingfish and striped tuna will be smiling, as all of these will be available this month.

The ledges to fish include Mystery Bay’s high rock and the Golf Course Rocks near the third hole at Narooma. Both these spots are alive with bait so it shouldn’t be a problem catching it at your feet.

Whole pilchards on ganged hooks, chromed lures and live bait under balloons or bobby corks will all work.

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