Merimbula's Top Lake is only a puddle compared with its northern cousins, but this stretch of water holds some cracking fish and should not be underestimated.
A lot of visiting anglers look for other waterways to fish, thinking the Top Lake has few fish but that can be a long way from the truth.
The place is a gem that holds all species from bream to mulloway, with dusky flathead the main target species. Some very big ‘crocs’ get caught here every season with 90cm-plus fish possible.
These bigger fish tend to be caught by experienced anglers using soft plastics but there are ample 40cm-65cm fish to be caught.
The Top Lake has many natural features including gravel beds, bommies, ribbon-weed edges and sandflats which hold a lot of bait and bigger fish.
One of the best areas to fish for flatties is Boggy Creek on the western side of the lake, especially on the draining tide. Fish smaller 70mm-80mm soft plastics and blades, or mullet strips.
The lake edges are prime flathead areas with ribbon weed found around most of its perimeter. Casting plastics up to the edges and working them to the deeper water in 6m-8m is almost a sure thing.
Mulloway can be caught like this, too, especially with bigger lures around a tide change. Every season a few jewies over 20kg get captured.
The sections from the bridge downstream hold bream, trevally, flathead, whiting, blackfish and flounder. Fresh striped tuna cubes, prawns and worms all work at times.
Salmon captures have been excellent along most beaches. Anglers using bluebait and pilchards have fared best although plenty of fish are falling to chrome shiners and slugs.
Some solid tailor and the odd decent gummy shark have been caught, especially after dark.
Bream and whiting numbers have increased with the warming water. These fine table fish will be challenging to some but the freshest pipis and beachworms should produce, especially along Tura Main and Haycock, just south of Pambula.
Offshore action has been steady with snapper, morwong, kingfish and striped tuna keeping most anglers happy.
The flatties have been excellent with sandies and tigers playing the game. Try off the Pambula River mouth and the 40m line straight off Tura Head.
Some decent reds have been encountered in 30-40 fathoms off Lennards Island and kingfish to 4kg have been taken at Long Point and Horseshoe Reef. If one reef isn’t firing move to another until you find the fish.
Out wide the action should really fire up. Until now we have seen sporadic catches of yellowfin tuna and albacore at the continental shelf, but with all the striped tuna around it won’t be long before the billfish action hots up.
January is the start of it all with anglers trolling lures getting better results early in the season. It’s also worth slowly trolling a striped tuna on a bridle rig.
Current and temperature will dictate where to fish, generally from the 40-fathom line to the shelf.
Rockhoppers will be keen with bonito and salmon in great numbers close to the rocks. Both species respond to varying techniques but smaller shiners cast on braid are popular.
A few local lads have been casting bigger poppers and have been done over by kings over 10kg.
For after a feed, Short Point is the go for drummer and blackfish with pelagics off Tura Head, Long Point and the Merimbula Wharf.Reads: 735