It's been a busy time of year around Merimbula with the holiday crowd, but those anglers putting in the time are reaping rewards with some exceptional fishing on offer.
The local beaches have been excellent, especially for bream and whiting, with most beaches holding fish. After the recent heavy seas, deeper gutters have formed in close just past the shore dump, making it easy for anglers to reach the deeper water. This has helped big time, with lighter outfits used on the bread and butter species. Some fishers have gotten their bags in short periods of time. Bream to 1kg or so and whiting to 46cm have been captured; good sport on the light tackle and not too bad on the plate either. The better baits to use include pipi, fresh prawns and live beachworms with North Tura, Tura Main, and Haycock beaches the pick.
There are plenty of salmon around also. At times they are thick and play havoc when using the light gear, and if you target them on paternoster rigs you’re in for some fun.
I'd expect a few mulloway and gummy sharks to be caught for those who have a go. Fishing the evening flooding tides into the night leading up to the full moon should pay rewards. North Tura would certainly be the pick of beaches for a jewie.
In the estuaries it's fishing great guns and this will continue. Both Merimbula and Pambula are firing for most estuarine species, with flathead, whiting, bream and luderick plentiful. It really depends on how you want to target them with different techniques. Bait fishers are having a ball in the channels while anchored. It really doesn't matter which tide you have as long it is running. Use a fairly decent-sized sinker on a running sinker rig with fresh prawns or striped tuna strips and you will have plenty of action.
If lures are your go-to method, you won't be disappointed either. Fishing the channels on a draining tide using stickbait style plastics will see plenty of fish, especially bream, trevally and the odd salmon. If you’re in the main basins of either lake, concentrate your efforts along the ribbon weed edges in 4-5m of water for best results. The most productive lures are blades and soft plastic paddle-tails in various colours.
January always sees some monster flatties active so if a croc is your desirable target you will have a great chance at a, 80cm-plus fish. l recommend fishing bigger plastics around 100mm, especially in Merimbula Lake. This system is a little deeper along the drop-offs and the bigger lures are definitely more effective on the larger flatties.
Now that the water has warmed to around 22C, surface presentations will also work on bream and whiting. This technique is great fun, and poppers and walk-the-dog lures are both effective. Most flats will hold fish but look for ones that have a mixture of sand and weed, not just sand. You will get better results with a mixture.
Outside anglers are licking their chops, with good catches coming from the reefs. The snapper fishing has been excellent of late and l can't see any reason why this won't continue. The fish are widespread, with most reefs holding fish. The average size of the reds is only around 1kg, but what they lack in size is made up for in numbers. Most crews are getting a dozen or more reds in a session, which is pretty good fishing in my book. Lennards Island to the south has been a hotspot, as has White-cliffs to the north.
A little further offshore, the pelagics are in full swing. Marlin, yellowfin tuna, albacore and a host of shark species have all been on the chew at times. With the water around 22-24C, this action will only get better as the weeks pass by. Trolling has been the best method, as it allows you to cover a lot more ground, giving you a good chance of crossing paths with a marlin. Both black and striped will be the prominent species but in January, and you have a big chance at a solid blue marlin. Every year a few huge models get hooked, but most win their freedom as the tackle used is usually under-gunned for such a big fish. Hopefully some crews get lucky and the hook sticks, but only time will tell.
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