Fish smarter not harder
  |  First Published: December 2013

Over the next few weeks Narooma's population will swell to 25,000+ people making it extremely busy in town and out on the water.

With the increased boat traffic that Christmas brings, anglers fishing the estuaries will have to fish a little smarter not harder. Getting on the water early will certainly help when fishing Wagonga Inlet and the surrounding Lakes. The waterways will be busy with jet skis, ski boats and the like so an early start will reap you rewards.

Wagonga Inlet has fished well of late, which should continue. There have been some huge flathead caught; the best l've heard of lately went a massive 96cm, now that's a beast! Unfortunately the fish was killed, but hopefully one day it will get through to ALL that killing these breeders will only do harm for future stocks in the long run.

There's also been an increase in mulloway captures, mainly by bait fishos, with several fish being caught around the 6-7kg bracket. While guiding at Wagonga recently I’ve marked a lot of mulloway up around the tailor school edges but they haven't really responded that well to artificials, especially soft plastics. That should change over coming weeks as the water warms further and the bait thins out. That's why mulloway are a challenge; they’re not easy to catch but once you do come up trumps the long hours targeting them are all forgotten.

Anglers after bream will do well in the lower sections of the channels from the main bridge to the bar entrance. Anchoring up and using berley on a draining tide should see some solid fish caught. You can expect whiting, trevally and the odd flounder as well.

In the upper reaches, bream and whiting will respond well to surface presentations, like poppers and walk baits. This visual type of fishing is great fun and will only get better as the water warms further.

Upper Tuross is firing up nicely, the flatties have been good in the river section with bream and estuary perch chewing amongst the snags. Casting lightly weighted softies and shallow-running hardbodies has worked a treat. The lower sections have been solid for mulloway, with bream and whiting starting to spread out on the flats. This action will continue and I expect this summer to be a cracker for this under-rated system.

On the rocks, drummer, blackfish and bream will still call the suds home, but a lot will depend on conditions. Fishing a ledge with white water is perfect; the rocks at Dalmeny is spot on for this, especially if the seas are calm. Using fresh cabbage, cunjevoi, cut crabs and prawns are the better baits to use.

For the guys who target pelagics species off the stones, this month is ideal. Bonito, striped tuna, kingfish, salmon and big tailor are all possibilities with lures and live bait the best methods. Casting lightly weighted ganged pilchards and slowly retrieving them will also pay dividends. Mystery Bay to the south of Narooma would be the pick, but the rock ledge at the golf course is worth a look too. The northern end of the breakwall also holds good quantities of salmon, especially on the run-out tide.

Offshore sport fishers will be in heaven with a plethora of species to target.

Kingfish are very popular with anglers, and they won't be disappointed. These hard fighting brutes are around and in decent numbers. Montague Island has been excellent with kings to 8kg common. Live bait and jigs have worked, although on different days different techniques will work. It pays to stop at the bait grounds below the golf course rocks, the day you don't is the day that livies work and not jigs, I've made the mistake before and it's not worth it!

There have been reports of kings off Potato Point and Moruya, so if the island is a little slower there are other options.

A little further out-wide, albacore and school yellowfin tuna to 30kg have been captured, mainly trolling skirted pushers and larger bibbed minnows. The fish have been along the shelf line, but your success will depend on water conditions and temperature as to their particular location.

It won't be long before the marlin turn up too. There's already been a handful of fish hooked off Bermagui, with a report of a 90kg fish landed, which is great to see so early in the season.

If the game species aren’t for you then the bottom eating fish will keep you happy. Like down south, the snapper have been good, fish to 2kg common on most inshore reefs.

The southwest corner of Montague has fired as well, so expect some sizable morwong and tiger flathead.

Off Kianga and Dalmeny in 35-40m of water have seen excellent captures of sand flathead. They have been patchy but once you find a patch, bags can be reached pretty easily. The added bonus here is that the stinking leatherjackets are gone for the time being, meaning less gear lost and more fish in the boat.

I expect this action to continue right through December and onwards, hopefully the weather will be on our side to let the local and visiting anglers get amongst them.

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