It's arguably been the best marlin season we have seen off Merimbula for a very long time. I've talked to many locals and visiting anglers and 90% of them think the same, which is awesome to hear.
There's been black, striped and blue marlin, although the majority being landed and released are striped marlin. Some of these models have been big; 130kg is an everyday occurrence. There's been reports of 150kg fish released plus a handful of stories about mega blue marlin that have been lost. Some fish have been estimated at 300kg – now that's a big fish to tangle with in a trailer-boat!
These larger models are winning their freedom due to the fishos being under-gunned in the tackle department. It's a 50/50 situation – have fun on the lighter gear with the stripes or fish 80-130lb and concentrate on the blues only. I'd be picking the lighter stuff as well.
The beaks have been in close too, with the 40-fathom line a good place to start. There's been a stack of bait holding there for weeks now with slimy mackerel the most prominent bait species. And with the warmer water north of us, I can’t see this action cooling off just yet. Most fish are falling to trolled skirted pushers with a few on skip baits, as well as switch baiting. All methods will work at times, just be prepared to mix it around for consistent results.
We should also see a smattering of yellowfin tuna. There’s been a few school fish around 30kg caught but I suspect over coming weeks that a few jumbos will turn up. Hopefully, they do, as that has been the case in past seasons.
In the estuaries, it’s business as usual. The fishing has been nothing short of awesome and has been for months now. Sure you get the odd day when it’s a little tougher, especially when windy, but overall is has been awesome.
Pambula and Merimbula are the places to fish, some very big flathead are coming from both systems. Over recent weeks guiding at Pambula we’ve managed three fish over the 80cm mark, an 84, 88 and a monster 95cm model. All these fish were captured on small soft plastic presentations, which is interesting. We have been throwing bigger softies with some success on fish to 60cm but the big girls won't eat them. I suspect they are feeding on smaller prawns and shrimp, hence the smaller lures working.
Other species like bream, blackfish, whiting, flounder, snapper and tailor have made both these places home. It's not uncommon at present to get 6-7 different legal species in a session. This great fishing will continue as long as the water holds above 20ºC.
The ocean rocks has been mixed, some days the bonito and kings play the game then on other days it’s a desert. The only thing you can do here is keep going and hope you strike a good day. Anglers casting whole pilchards on ganged hooks have faired best, although live-baiting and casting shiners will get results. Look towards Tura Head if live baiting, if spinning North Head or the Wharf in Merimbula Bay is worth a try. If the pelagics aren’t for you, you should be able to pick up a few blackfish and drummer on cabbage, especially after heavy seas.
On the beaches it’s a bit like the rock fishing, sporadic to say the least. Salmon numbers are almost non-existent at the minute, not too sure why but maybe the dense schools we used to see are not getting this far up the coast, only time will tell.
The whiting and bream numbers are good. They have been excellent all summer and with a few of the yellowfin bream leaving the estuaries this month to do their thing more numbers should be available. Better beaches to try include North Tura (northern end), Tura Main and the mouth at Pambula Lake. Best baits include live beach worms, pipi and tuna cubes for the bream.Reads: 790