Time to tame the tiger
  |  First Published: October 2008

It’s tiger time and not on the golf course – this is a watery attack that happens every year from October onwards, producing great fishing and some lovely table fare.

From around the 30m depth contour right out to the Continental Shelf, tiger flathead are moving along the coast as they do this time every year.

They are relatively easy to target and drifting is the best way to rustle up a feed. Sounders are important when fishing this way, allowing you to find the edges of the reefs or muddy bottoms where the tigers lurk.

A GPS is also a valuable item, allowing you to track your drift and concentrate your efforts on the more productive areas.

If you have been catching a lot of fish in a particular area over several days and then return to find very little activity there, it is likely these flathead, which are schooling fish, have eaten this area out and have moved on. It will pay for you to move around in this case to find them, and in some cases that may mean several kilometres.

Another benefit of drift fishing off Bermagui is the amount of scattered reef from just off the main headland to the south for many miles. If you crack a good southern drift it will be possible to cover many of these areas in one long drift, saving a lot of moving around and fuel.

Flathead are going to be in between these reefs and you will know when you happen along harder structure by the assortment of reef fish including coral cod, snapper, those hard-pulling morwong and many other oddballs thrown in.


October generally heralds the start of the gamefish season, with school tuna, sharks and the remote possibility of an early marlin.

Albacore will be on the shortlist while striped tuna and yellowfin will also be encountered.

Trolling is best at this time of year so you can cover more ground. A variety of small skirts and diving lures will account for most strikes, but I always like to have a large pusher out the back for a marlin or that larger tuna.

And where there are tuna there are likely to be makos. If you have caught plenty of tuna, use the frames from some stripies for bait and berley, starting your trail where you have encountered the tuna. It may take a while or not happen at all but when it does, it will be spectacular.


The estuaries are heating up very nicely and starting to produce some very nice fish.

In the upper reaches of the Bermagui River some very good dusky flathead over 70cm are being taken on lures.

Look for them over the flats at high tide where they warm themselves in the sun. Up on these flats schools of blackfish graze over the ribbon weed and mixed with them are bream, whiting and mullet. All can be taken on nippers or worms.

At this time of year around the bridge at night on a falling tide all those species plus more feed at the edge of the light on what is washed down with the current.

Prawners should also start to look on the dark of this month out at Cuttagee and Barragoot lakes. These systems were open to the ocean at the right time this year, allowing stock to enter the system, so both these lakes should prawn well.

Sadly, Wallaga Lake was not open to the ocean for the prawn stock to enter but there is a bright side, with tailor over 5kg patrolling the lower sections of the lake and providing plenty of sport.

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