Drama on the high seas
  |  First Published: March 2007

If you really want to catch a marlin, March is the month to target them. There’s also a host of other recreational species from the estuaries to the Continental Shelf that you can chase.

Drama on the high seas is what’s happening most days out of Bermagui at this time of year. Stories of marlin fought, lost, captured or tagged unfold at the local watering hole most evenings.

The Twelve Mile Reef is the prime spot at present, especially for striped marlin, although blacks may be encountered close to the coast with those big blues patrolling out around the Canyons. Lure fishing is probably the simplest way to encounter a billfish, with many fish being taken this way and a lot more raised. A good spread of lures working the deep water out beyond the Shelf will attract any willing blue, often with spectacular results, plus you have the bonus of picking up tuna species and short-billed spearfish.

As good as lures are, when marlin congregate around bait schools, livebaiting becomes the best option. Slow trolling live mackerel or small tuna will tempt any marlin’s taste buds, and there’s always a friendly mako or two keen to sample a well-presented bait.

For the most spectacular form of billfishing, go to switch baiting. This is done by running hookless lures, often sweetened with a belly flap from a strip bait, sewn in to taste. Once you see a marlin come up on the lures, allow the fish to grab the lure briefly before removing it from the water and replacing it with a bait. It’s great fun.

Offshore reef and light tackle sportfishing is excellent at the moment. Flathead, snapper, mowies and gummy sharks are plentiful with most areas producing, and some other species have been mixed in as a welcome bonus for bottom fishers.

For the sportfishing enthusiasts, yellowtail kingfish are in good numbers around Montague and rocky outcrops along the coast. Bonito, salmon, tailor and other small pelagics are being encountered either by trolling or casting lures in simular areas.

Soft plastic jigging offshore is still gaining momentum for kingies and snapper, along with a host of other species. Light spin and baitcaster outfits are all you need to have a lot of fun with this popular trend.

March is the best month for fishing the rivers and lakes along the South Coast, as many fish are feeding vigorously to gain body weight before the cooler months. Those wishing to toss lures will do well for bream and flathead while the bait fishers are right in their element for most species. At this time of year prawns in the estuaries are of a good size and plentiful, so you’ll find that prawn-style lures work particularly well. Early morning is the prime time as predators look for remaining stragglers from the night time activity.

Berleying is a great way to attract fish and can be done both in the estuaries or off a beach. Striped tuna, mackerel and pilchards make great berley, and can be used in various ways. Pillies can be cut into small pieces and thrown into the water as well as being punched through a burley bucket along with the tuna. If you don’t have a bucket just use a small mesh keeper net and make some cuts into the fish to allow it to break apart. This works very well on the beach in conjunction with the wave force.

Lots of fun can be had in Brogo too, as the insect life and water temps have the bass feeding aggressively. It’s that time of year when black crickets are emerging, and anglers can take advantage by using them as bait or with imitation lures and flies. Fishing is best in this form in the late afternoon and into the night, with early mornings also accounting for their share. Try trolling or working deep lures through the rest of the day around where you sound the old river bed and weedy areas.

There are also a lot of shrimp in Brogo, so bobbing may also be an option.

Sadly if there is one problem with the Bermagui area at this time of year, it’s that there is just too many options!



A short-billed spearfish – an incidental catch whilst chasing marlin.


A mixed bag taken over the flats on nippers.


A very nice luderick taken by Annie Pinnock in the Bermagui River.

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