The lagoons open up
  |  First Published: May 2012

More than 400mm of rain over the month has made it extremely difficult for anglers to fish, especially inshore, and it’s been a long time since there’s been as much fresh water around.

The local lakes and rivers look more like the Murray River than the clear, pristine waters we are used to.

In the long run the fishing will benefit tenfold as all estuaries need a good flush from time to time.

At the time of writing all coastal lagoons from Tathra to the border are open to the sea – even Wallagoot Lake, which has not seen the fresh ocean swells for well over 15 years.

It's great this waterway is open again but for how long is anyone's guess. Over coming weeks fish recruitment to this system should be awesome, making this once dynamic estuary a fishing haven again.

For those who have braved the elements, the lower sections of the estuaries are the only place to fish. Even with the dirty water some nice bream, flathead and whiting have taken fresh baits like tuna cubes, prawns and bass yabbies.

The best time to fish has been when the tide starts to bring back some cleaner saltwater into the channels.

At certain times there's definitely a colour change and this is where a lot of the action is happening.

Towards the entrance to Merimbula just inside the bay there's been a heap of big salmon so if all else fails, some fun can be had there.

Those fishing the basins of Merimbula and Pambula lakes have struggled. There's been the odd flathead, bream and trevally but they will improve dramatically once the water clears.


Offshore has been reasonably good with snapper, kingfish and morwong all chewing over the reefs.

The water has been dirty for a good kilometre offshore but it hasn't slowed the fishing. If anything, it's picked up, especially for the reds.

The snapper can be found on most reefs but Long and Horseshoe have been favoured. Mixed in with them have been some thumping morwong to 3kg, trevally and pigfish.

Anglers drifting seem to be getting better results, with fresh squid and tuna strips the gun baits.

Further offshore the water is clear, blue and around 23°. When conditions have suited, game fishers have had some memorable marlin action with some crews getting five or six shots a day at striped and black marlin.

Most of the action is happening wide, with the continental shelf and further east the most favoured. Trolling and switch-baiting have worked and I've heard of a few fish being tempted by skip baits as well.

This action should slow as we head into the month and the water cools, but that just means it's tuna time.

May is traditionally the gun month for big yellowfin and the local crews should have a cracking season on these majestic sport fish.

A handful have already been caught as marlin by-catch and I expect fish to 70kg along with albacore and more mako sharks as the month progresses.

Cubing will be a popular method for the tuna although trolling bibbed minnows will catch plenty.


On the beaches it's business as usual, even with the dirty water. Bream and whiting are in decent numbers with Tura Main and Merimbula Main the pick beaches.

Anglers using tuna cubes, pipis and live beach worms have fared best.

If you’re after salmon you won’t have to queue; fish to 4kg are thick and taking to surf popper/bait combos.

The rocks are firing for drummer after the rain with the odd snapper coming from Tura Head.

Pelagics have been OK with salmon, tailor and bonito at times.

This month I expect the odd mackerel tuna to be landed, especially from Tura Head or Long Point inside Merimbula Bay. Use live bait or spin with metal slices but a lot will depend on water temperature, current and clarity.

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