Billfish on the bucket list
  |  First Published: February 2014

If marlin fever has ever taken hold of you and you just ‘gotta’ have one, well this February is primed! Now is the heart of the season, so let’s go get some. Stripes, blues and blacks are all there following the many schools of baitfish.

Out over the shelf in the deep water of the canyons, blues are patrolling searching for large prey in the form of striped tuna, small yellowfin, albacore and mahi mahi. This is the time to troll lures, big ones at that. If you want a big blue think big! The more commotion you make out the back the more likely you are to attract a fish to your pattern.

Big blues will often turn up from nowhere to just scoff a lure, so time on the water and distance travelled is often a must. However don’t expect frantic action, if you want excitement maybe think about the small stripes concentrating on the Twelve Mile Reef.

The beauty of the stripes is just that, at close quarters the colours on these fish are truly spectacular from the electric blues, subtle purples to golden bronze they are amazing creatures. Often schooling in vast numbers, methods of targeting them will vary from live baits to lures and now the more exciting switch baiting. This is where anglers will troll lures without hooks, teasing the fish to the back of the boat where the lure is replaced with a pre-rigged bait resulting in an instant hook up.

Blacks are lurking around with the stripes and are varying in size. They will respond to lures although live baits in the form of mackerel, frigates and small striped tuna will produce best.

If gamefish is not your scene, plenty of activity can be had fishing the reefs and around Montague Island. Fishing for kingfish up at the rock has been good this season producing great sport. They have been responding to most methods from jigs to bait fished in various ways.

Leaving the Island, try out from Tilba on The Step for sand flatties, these fish are in good numbers in depths around 40-50m.

South of Bermagui, most of the regular reefs are holding good stocks of morwong, snapper, perch while out from them large tiger flathead and gummy sharks are also gracing anglers bags.

If you don’t own a boat big enough or if offshore is not your scene, try the estuaries. There are plenty of them to choose from and you would need a couple of weeks to explore most of them. Bream and flathead are most prolific although most other species are also common.

How you wish to target the estuaries is up to the individual. Fish are responding to well-presented lures (hard and soft bodies), but fresh bait is producing best.

The hot spots are the Bermagui River for flathead, bream, trevally while around the bridge and break walls have good numbers of luderick. Wapengo Lake south is firing, while fresh live prawns are providing good angling in Wallaga Lake. Match the hatch and use what is on offer, there are plenty of prawns in Wallaga at present, which are of good size.

If you are anything like me then you would rather eat the bait. Prawning is good in the dark, starting the first week in Feb.

Beaches and adjacent rock platforms are being visited by a host of species ranging from small pelagics like bonito, kingfish, tailor and frigate mackerel, mainly off the stones through, to salmon, tailor, large whiting, bream plus even a few mulloway.

South the beaches of Barragoot, Cuttaggee and Murrah have been producing most species, while up north at Camel Rock has seen the action with the mulloway.

The main headland at Bermi has had most of the land-based action just inside Horseshoe Bay around the old wharf providing plenty of entertainment. Mystery Bay and Goalen Head have produced their share of action with the odd good kingfish being captured, or lost, plus a few sightings of marlin patrolling the coast line, although no reports of any hook ups.

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