Time for the raw prawn
  |  First Published: November 2008

‘The raw prawn’ is a wonderfully Australian phrase and it actually has special meaning for anglers.

It’s that time along the far South Coast when most estuary systems hold their share of prawns and the warming water means they grow fast, meaning a feast for all.

Estuary fish feed furiously to gain condition and other creatures including birds also benefit, while we humans have the most to gain with increased fishing productivity as well as a good feed of these lovely crustaceans.

If you like to slip on the baggy waders, grab the underwater light and wield the aluminium scoop net, November heralds the start of the prawning season.

Don’t expect them to be overly large yet but there should be plenty of them. The best times will be the first and last weeks of the month with the better lakes likely to be Cuttaggee and Barragoot.

For the best flavour, remember to cook these delicious school prawns in ocean saltwater and then dip them in saltwater chilled with ice.

If you’re into lure fishing the estuaries, it’s a great time. There are a lot of soft plastics resembling the old raw prawn but lots that look like fish can be worked in a way to imitate a prawn.

Most of the estuaries around Bermagui have prawns and the best time to fish prawn imitations is early morning. Prawns that have not yet buried back in the sand are easy prey for predators, with flathead and bream top of the list.

Whichever estuary you fish, work the drop-offs and weed beds, especially on the falling tide. At Bermagui, check out around the bridge at night on a falling tide because it can provide some very exciting angling.

Estuaries that are open to the ocean allow this prawn stock to filter back into the sea.


When this happens, the offshore bottom fish will also step up a gear. If you have the time to catch some fresh prawns the night before putting to sea, fish out from the estuaries open to the ocean where you are likely to find some very big sand flathead.

These fish may also be taken with plastics and light gear to provide even more fun. Snapper and morwong will also feed on the prawns so the inshore reefs can be targeted with good results on bait and plastics.

The wider reefs have their attractions, with more variety on offer. Out around the Twelve Mile Reef, Tassie trumpeter are there along with ocean perch, jackass morwong and some of the largest tiger flathead you will find.

While out wide you are likely to see schools of yellowfin, albacore and striped tuna. It has been a good early season with many fish being captured around the edge of the Continental Shelf and out over 1000 fathoms.

Most fish are being taken on the troll and a good spread of mixed lures will allow anglers to find how the fish are feeding. If they’re taking diving lures they are likely to be down in the water column and should show on the sounder.

They may be taking both, with the diving lures attracting them to the skirted ones, and if a pattern emerges change your lures for better results.

With tuna you can expect sharks, particularly big makos which love to harass tuna schools. If you get sick of catching tuna, lay out a berley trail consisting mainly of tuna and hang on.

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