With the water temperature around 22-24°C it's a great time of year to wet a line, in spite of the crowds that the holiday period brings.
Offshore anglers are in for a good time. Both bottom bashers and gamefishers are going to have a great month, with all species playing the game.
On the reefs snapper are continuing to chew, with fish to 2kg common. There's been the odd better fish to 4kg but most are school fish and they are in great numbers at present. Most reefs are holding fish but the southwest corner of Montague Island has been excellent, especially when the current has slowed. With the reds you can expect ample morwong, with solid tiger flathead which is a little surprising as they usually like deeper water. For those after a feed of sand flathead it shouldn't take too much; concentrate your efforts in 35-40m of water straight off Kianga and Dalmeny headlands.
Those after kingfish are doing well, too. The kings are responding to jigs, live bait and squid on flasher rigs. Where they turn up on any given day is a lottery, as a lot depends on current and temperature, but at the moment the Fowl-house reef and the northeast corner of the Island in 70m of water has been the pick. The kings will only get better as the weeks pass, so some great angling can be expected.
Further offshore the game brigade are getting excited, as marlin – both black and striped plus the odd blue – are there for the taking. There have already been a few captured to 110kg which is awesome to see. Trolling skirted pushers, skip baiting and switch baiting will all work at times, so having a solid understanding of all techniques should put you in the firing line.
As always there will be a smattering of yellowfin tuna to 50kg captured, plus the chance at a short-billed spearfish or wahoo if the water is warm enough. We seem to get a few northern species every season so l can't see why this year will be any different. Start fishing around the 70 fathom line if the water looks good enough. The shelf and second drop will be where most anglers will start their fishing. There's ample bait out wide with striped tuna schools and slimy mackerel plentiful, though the slimies seem to be deeper so having a quality sounder is paramount for best results.
In the estuaries it's firing up nicely, but you’ll need to get on the water early to beat the increased boat traffic. It's not uncommon to have 40 boats or more on the water by mid-morning, so the earlier you start, the better the fishing will be.
Most of the estuaries will fish well, with Mummaga and Corunna excellent for flathead, especially if you’re after a feed. These two systems are relatively shallow, with 5m of water the maximum depth. The water warms up quicker than the bigger systems, which is why the flattie fishing is so good. Smaller 70-80mm soft plastics will work a treat, with the average size of fish around 40cm. You do get the odd bigger fish in both systems, but predominately school-sized fish. This style of fishing is ideal for families or if you’re new to the sport.
In Wagonga it's still loaded with tailor, and l mean loaded – they are everywhere. They are feeding better on the surface around the tide changes. There are a few cracking tailor to over 2kg being caught, mainly by fishos trolling bigger deep divers around the perimeter of schools. You would expect the mulloway to be following them and I’m sure there are, but with so much feed around, trying to entice a mulloway to hit a lure has been a challenge. If a jew is for you, your best option is an evening session with live bait or fresh strip bait.
Further up the Lake around the oyster racks has been good for bream and whiting on surface lures, and this will only get better as the water warms further. Bait anglers fishing live prawns or nippers have been getting bream and whiting as well. Up at Tuross the fishing has been OK but you do have to work for them. I've found the bigger flatties (fish over 80cm) a little harder to find but there are plenty of fish to 50cm. The flats are holding good schools of whiting and the odd bream, and the snags in the river section are good for estuary perch.
On the rocks anglers are catching plenty of salmon and bonito which are both great sport on the right tackle. Spinning with metal shiners to 50g has been popular, though the go-to method is to cast a pilchard on ganged 5/0 hooks with a size 1 ball sinker straight onto the top hook. I know of a local angler who caught 30 fish for a morning session. Once the sun got up the metals didn't work, but slowly winding in the pilchards got him a heap more fish.
This month should see a few kings, with Mystery Bay or the Golf course rocks the places to fish. Anglers fishing the beaches shouldn't have too many worries getting a feed with bream, whiting, salmon and tailor all there for the taking. After the recent heavy seas there's some cracking gutters on many beaches with Tilba, Narooma main, Brou and Blackfellows all worth a look. Live beachworms and pipi would be the pick of the baits for bream and whiting, with pilchards, blue bait and tuna strips excellent for the pelagic species.
Those after the holy grail of beach fishing, the mighty mulloway, could do worse than target them this month. I would be concentrating around the flooding tide deep into the evening with big bunches of live beachworms the best bait.Reads: 1020