Reds rule the reefs
  |  First Published: July 2008

Cold westerly winds are the norm at this time of year but don’t let them deter you because some exceptional fishing is still on offer.

Snapper is the word at the moment with most inshore reefs around Merimbula holding good quantities of reds. The fish are not huge, averaging 1kg or so, but there has been the odd brute to 6kg on the edges of the gravel and sand.

A few local anglers have done particularly well anchoring on the reef itself while berleying with pilchard cubes and squid cut-offs. Current, tide and wind will determine where to anchor but getting the berley to drift over the gravel edges has been a major key to getting bigger fish.

Having a quality sounder and knowing how to use it is a must for this type of fishing. You might need a few attempts at dropping the anchor to get in just the right spot. It may seem a little over the top to some, but the rewards will make it worthwhile.

Anglers are also having success drifting with fresh squid and pilchards on paternoster rigs. You do cover a lot more ground but the fish are generally smaller.

Fishos using soft plastics will have success, especially closer to shore in water less than 20m deep. The leatherjackets might send them nuts but some quality snapper are the reward for tolerance. Better reefs include Long Point, Horseshoe and, further north of Merimbula, White Rocks.

Out wider, the game scene will be quiet with currents and water temperature determining if a trip to the Shelf is the go. There may be southern bluefin tuna about or a stray yellowfin, but I’d save the fuel.

If you like deep-water bottom-bouncing then fishing the canyon walls should produce blue-eye trevalla, gemfish and Tassie trumpeter if you’re after a quality feed.


The local estuaries have fished well lately but I suspect they will really quieten down this month.

There will still be trevally and bream available in the channels, especially at Pambula where anglers using soft plastics have done best. Stick-style plastics in 3” sizes will outfish more traditional fish/shad-shaped plastics.

The water will be cold and very clear so remember to downsize leaders and jig weights for better results.

In Merimbula Lake, tailor will still be present with winter sometimes producing mega greenbacks. Trolling deeper-diving minnows for these bigger fish is the go but metal shiners also account for fish to. Look out for the birds and the tailor won’t be far away.

This is prime time for rockhoppers targeting blackfish, drummer and groper. These love the cold water and any headland or rock platform that has a decent wash and cabbage-encrusted rocks will hold good concentrations of these species. Short Point, Long Point and the rocks near the aquarium wharf are prime locations.

Cabbage, cunjevoi, black crabs and bread will all work at times. Using a little berley like bread or cabbage/sand mix in the wash will also improve your catch rates.

Salmon and tailor can be caught on the outside edges of the wash zones with ganged pilchards and chrome sliced lures producing. Winter salmon on the stones can get big so I suggest using heavier tackle to lift them out if washing them up is not an option.


On the beaches, the pelagics like tailor and salmon will fill most anglers’ expectations. A few bream and mulloway can be expected also with the rockier corners of beaches being best to fish.

Paternoster and single dropper rigs will work but I think throwing small chrome lures is a great way to fish the beach in the winter. It keeps you active and warm and the results can be quite outstanding. It also allows you to work a lot more water and once the fish are found, some memorable sessions will be encountered.

Better beaches to are Tura and North Tura but almost any beach will be holding fish at this time of year.

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