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Bluefin fever strikes
  |  First Published: August 2001



Finally we have experienced some stable weather and look at the results, with offshore sport fishers producing some outstanding captures over recent days.

Southern bluefin tuna are the flavour of the month, with multiple hook-ups the norm and hundreds of anglers heading wide for some of the action.

I've lived along this part of the coast for a long time and I have not seen this type of hype about tuna fishing since the late 1980s, when the north end of Montague Island was a yellowfin tuna mecca.

It's amazing stuff and I can't see it stopping for a while yet but you never know with Mother Nature, it can change in a short time so enjoy it while it's there, I say.

These fish are responding to all methods. Trolling skirted pushers and bibbed minnows has worked well but those cubing have definitely done better.

Having a school of bluefin at the back of the boat, almost hand-feeding them, has happened on numerous boats so there are certainly some numbers there and they’re hungry.

The best day from one boat I have heard of was 41 bluefin to 80kg, plus two 30kg yellowfin, all on cubes. Only three of these fish were killed for the table, which is good to see, with the rest tagged and released and the boys left them biting – insane fishing indeed.

This season’s tuna behaviour is certainly different from previous ones. They are widespread, from the shelf to the seamount and I know of a few smaller 25kg fish coming from the 60-fathom line just east of Montague Island.

The average size of the tuna seems to be around 50kg to 60kg, which are solid models but not the jumbos that a lot of crews are after.

I expect some very big fish to maybe 180kg over coming weeks as more crews from Melbourne and Sydney come to target them.

The influx of boats from down south is amazing with Narooma and Bermagui starting to look like the old days – great for the towns so let's hope these bullets with fins stay around for a while.

SNAPPER AWESOME

With so much action out wide the reef species have been left alone but those who have targeted the bread-and-butter species have been rewarded.

The snapper fishing is awesome at present with bag limits (10 per person) reached in a session on some boats. Some of the snapper are pushing 6kg although the average model is around 2kg, ideal plate size.

Those that have fared best are anchoring on the hard reef and floating berley and baits over the gravel, with pilchards, tuna strips and fresh squid strips all working.

There has still been the odd kingfish and bonito snaffling the snapper baits so dropping a live bait down may be worthwhile.

Most of this action has occurred in 60m to 70m off Potato Point and Tuross. Having a good quality colour sounder will help when fishing this area.

INLET PELAGICS

Narooma's Wagonga Inlet has slowed since last month but there's still plenty of action on the pelagic front.

Salmon to 4kg are still in the system but not as thick as previous weeks. The main basin seems to be holding the majority with the upper reaches past the powerlines slowing down.

The bait that was thick upstream has moved into deeper water, making for slower fishing. You will still get some sizable trevally and tailor around these bait balls with soft stickbaits working.

The water is a cold 11° so long, light leaders are a must for consistent results.

Up at Tuross there's still some good angling available with bream, blackfish and flathead on the cards. The lower sections have been good for flatties on plastics and blades.

Fishos using a variety of hard-bodies have caught quality bream to 40cm along the weed edges and racks, though they are spooky in the very clear water right through the estuary.

The clarity is due to the system being open to the sea with the deep entrance continuing, which is great to see. Expect a few salmon around the entrance also, with plastics and smaller shiners the lures of choice.

ROCKS

Winter is prime time for drummer of the stones and when conditions have suited it’s been very productive for these hard fighting brutes.

Pound for pound, black drummer are one of the hardest fighting species you'll encounter anywhere. They are also great on the plate.

The golf course rocks and Dalmeny Headland have produced pigs on peeled prawns, cunjevoi and bread. You can expect the odd groper and bream, while anglers using fresh cabbage or weed are getting nice luderick.

A little berley here will also improve catches rates, further especially if there's not much wash around. Some good salmon will succumb to chrome lures or ganged pilchards from both these ledges with Mystery Bay down south another good area to try.

Those fishing from the sand will have little trouble getting salmon. Most beaches are loaded, so choose a half-decent gutter and you'll have bent rods for hours.

Better beaches to try include Tilba, Narooma Main, Brou and Blackfellows, just south of Tuross.

Any method will work although a paternoster rig with a bait/popper combination is your safest bet.

At times we see a few big bream caught in August and I know of a few locals that have caught quite a lot while fishing for salmon so actively targeting them on lighter outfits with fresh bait could produce some solid fish.

I'd be concentrating around the rockier corners with a good cover of whitewater, with Brou Beach my favourite.

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