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Fish outside the square
  |  First Published: August 2012



For years now I have seen anglers come to Bermagui with a one track mind focused on game fish, and when the game fish aren’t on they leave the area despondent and criticizing the area for its lack of fish. These anglers need to learn to fish outside the square because Bermagui has one of the most diverse fisheries available to anglers in Australia, even in some of the worst fishing months like August.

No doubt August is a bad month to fish and your chances of catching a game fish are limited, however don’t write it off, there are plenty of options.

The reef is fishing ok but not full on. There are some excellent reefs within a couple of miles of port that produce very well. Expect the usual like snapper, morwong, ocean perch, pigfish and leather jackets – all are very tasty.

Anchoring on these inshore reefs using berley will often attract larger species like trevallas, salmon, and mako and gummer sharks. Whether anchored or drifting add a squid jig to your rig as there are some exceptional calamari squid and cuttlefish present.

Westerly winds are common at this time of year thus resulting in little shore break. This can allow anglers to work the coast line from a boat casting lures back towards land. Soft plastics worked along the bottom may result in mixed bags of snapper, red rock cod, wrasses, trevally and flathead, while working the surface either trolling or casting is likely to find you connected to some large salmon, tailor, pike and schnook.

Both tigers and sand flathead are present with good catches coming from down south off the Murrah or Cuttaggee, while north off Tilba out on The Step is also good. Mixing in with these are some quality gummy sharks, red gurnard and an occasional large flounder.

Out wide bluefin tuna are still a possibility, with a few lingering on after yet another good season. Berleying for them is one possibility, and it may attract cool water sharks like makos or blues, which are also a good option. If you have an electric reel, try some deep water fishing as now is a good time to target those tasty deep water species like ling, cod, hapuka or blue eye trevalla.

Back on the beaches you can do the standard beach rig, place your rod in a holder and wait for one of those many salmon to pass by or you can grab a hand full of lures, your favourite spin stick and go looking for them. With the aid of calm seas you will be able to polaroid the passing schools, which presents an opportunity to place your lure resulting in an almost instant hook up. Once the school is located several fish may be extracted before passing by, then start your wander again as there is likely to be another passing soon.

These fish are also available from the rocks and tagging along with them may be a few tailor, schnook, pike or trevally. The most sought after fish from the stones at present are those hard pulling drummer. As the shadows of the cliffs pass over the ocean of an afternoon, these fish come on the chew providing some great sport. There are a few bream with them, some great leather jackets and the occasional blue groper.

Gaining height in the estuaries and being able to see what your targeting will give you the upper hand, and one place to do this is off the Bermagui Bridge. Here at the bottom of the tide you are likely to observe schools of bream, luderick, whiting or trevally congregating here before pressing up the river with the incoming tide. Once located either from shore or a boat, a few dozen nippers and a well placed cast as the tide starts to move should result in a lovely mixed bag. Remember this behaviour will be occurring in most of the estuaries in the area that are open to the ocean, however make the most of it as the action only lasts for a couple of hours.

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