The best of the south
  |  First Published: March 2014

The beginning of autumn is undoubtedly the best month of the year to fish the south coast, especially at Bermagui. Estuaries are firing, bass are on the chew in Brogo, Reefs are good, so are the beaches and rocks plus the game scene is fantastic.

The marlin fishing is what Bermagui is famous for, and now is prime time. Calm autumn weather, good water temps and plenty of baitfish have the billfish feeding in earnest, putting on body fat for the cooler months ahead.

Schools of mackerel and cowanyoung are concentrated on the Twelve Mile Reef, attracting the predators in the form of both fish and anglers. This reef system is only 8 or so miles slightly southeast of Bermagui, making it a safe close option in which to hunt for marlin. All three species congregate here in the form of striped, black and blue, plus the lesser encountered spearfish and mahi mahi, the occasional yellowfin tuna and a host of shark species only too willing to feast on the smorgasbord on offer.

Most techniques will work on marlin at this time of year so it pays to be versatile. Live baits may work one day whereas lures will produce better the next. My favourite method is switch baiting because it adds more excitement to the hunt.

For those not wrapped up in chasing gamefish there are other fun options available. Kingfish are providing plenty of activity around Montague Island with some lovely bonito mixed in with them. Like the marlin, you may have to try a few methods to find the flavour of the day. These include jigging, using live bait or strips of squid or mackerel.

If catching fish for the table is your thing, the reef action is excellent. Most of the popular Four, Six and Twelve Mile Reef systems are producing a host of species, with the more favoured snapper, tiger flathead, trumpeter and morwong all being encountered. The pick of the areas is down south out from Goalen Head where you can fish from as little as a few metres right down to 30 fathoms plus, which start less than a mile out to sea. The Goalen Head area offers anglers the chance to experiment with different methods from anchoring and berleying to attract fish to you (this produces very large snapper in this area) through to jigging plastics in varying water depths. Jigging plastics is good fun and is gaining in popularity.

Along our coast there are many suitable rock platforms accessible for those who wish to chase the many smaller (and not so small) pelagics that visit our coastline. Small tuna may be encountered in the form of frigates, bonito and mac tuna, with the occasional larger yellowfin. High-speed lures from the stones is becoming more popular, putting you in with a chance at all those species plus your more common salmon, tailor and kingfish.

Live baiting will also produce, usually on a larger scale, with marlin, sharks and tuna all being possible. While you’re waiting for the big bite, try some bait fishing down deeper. A host of hard-pulling rock dwellers will be only too willing to eat your bait.

So you like prawning! Well, Wallaga Lake just north of Bermagui has good stock of very large prawns at the moment. With the first week in March being the lead up to the dark, things could not be better.

As a result of the prawns in the estuaries, fish are all fired up as they look to condition for the cooler months ahead. Most of our systems are producing some excellent bream and flathead with most forms of angling working well. Not to be outdone, most other species are also on the chew with some very nice whiting, plenty of blackfish for the traditionalist plus many more.

Now to the sweetwater of Brogo Dam. Black crickets are the flavour at the moment, providing very exciting surface activity. Whether you use them for bait or prefer artificial flies and lures, now a great time to use them. The best action comes early in the morning or (even better) late in the evening when the barometer is up.

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