Making the most of peak hour
  |  First Published: December 2006

Merimbula during January can resemble peak hour in Martin Plaza as a big influx of people enjoy what the Sapphire Coast has to offer. A lot of people come here just to relax or be by the beach but for those who want to wet a line, the fishing opportunities are exceptional.

The Merimbula Lake system will see a huge increase in boat traffic with locals and visitors jostling for prime positions.

Flathead, bream, whiting, mullet, tailor, blackfish and mulloway will all be available but unfortunately not all anglers will catch fish. This is not to say the fish aren’t there, they are, but being under so much pressure they will certainly slow down.

This is where we have to be a little smarter with our fishing to get better results. Fishing the early mornings, late afternoons and tide changes will produce but tackle selection in my books is critical for more consistent catch rates.

If targeting flathead with soft plastics, use a leader material much lighter than you normally would and you will see more fish in the boat. It’s the same with bait; fresh or live bait will certainly outfish dead frozen stuff.

I know that Bluewater Sports in Merimbula sell live bait during the Christmas period so if you can’t get your own, that’s certainly another option.

The fish will be quite widespread but concentrating your efforts around the weed edges and bommies in the main basin is a good starting point. The main channel towards the entrance is a great area for whiting, especially on the rising tide over the flats. Live nippers work well here.


Offshore action has been steady with snapper, morwong, kingfish and striped tuna keeping most boaties happy. Flathead have been quiet but this will change this month because as the water warms, the area off the Pambula River mouth should produce results.

Some decent reds have been encountered in 30 to 40 fathoms off Lennards Island with kingfish to 4kg at Long Point and Horseshoe Reef.

All this action will continue over January. If one reef isn’t firing, move to another until you find the fish. Don’t let them find you, you might be waiting a while.

Out wide the action should really fire up. We have been getting sporadic catches of yellowfin tuna and albacore at the shelf but with all the striped tuna schools around it won’t be long before the billfish action hots up.

January is the start of it all with anglers trolling lures usually getting better results early in the season. It’s also worth slow-trolling a striped tuna on a bridle rig to keep the bait alive longer.

What the current and temperature are doing will determine where to fish but generally from the 40-fathom line onwards is worth a look.

The rocks have certainly tapered off for drummer and blackfish. I have heard of a few fish from Short Point but they are hard work. Fresh ab gut and cabbage in a heavy berley has produced some quality fillets.

The guys targeting the pelagic species have also found it tough. The water is still quite cold in close but that will change shortly. There’s some pretty warm water just north of us so expect the action to get better. Kingfish, striped tuna and bonito are all on the cards.

North Tura Beach has been fishing great guns for whiting and bream with live beach worms, pipis and fresh local prawns the best baits. Salmon have been very quiet while mulloway are possible on those warm, moonlit nights. Use big fresh squid if targeting the jew.

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