Finding the famous tuna
  |  First Published: May 2014

The last month of autumn usually heralds the start of the yellowfin tuna season and Bermagui is famous for it, although after several poor seasons will they turn up?

May is prime time for the tuna with calm conditions allowing anglers to target these species in various ways. Cubing in berley trails is the most popular method and hanging a live bait out under a balloon also proves successful. A suggestion when using a live bait is to rig it on 250lb mono with a substantial hook as marlin will still be encountered in May, in fact in the past some of the best run of marlin for the season have occurred in May.

Striped marlin were mainly encountered and it was common to witness schools of up to 20 fish working the bait over.

Other species encountered while berleying were albacore tuna, which are great fun on light gear and will readily come right up to the boat allowing anglers to choose which line class to target these fish on.

Mako and other species of sharks will also appear in trails. Have a good wire trace handy or put a shark bait out under a balloon. If you wish to target a shark use plenty of striped tuna in the berley, cube with the flesh and pump the frame through the berley bucket.

With the introduction of deep water jigging anglers now have another option while drifting in berley trails. Dropping jigs down deep will produce a wide variety of fish species and will sometimes bring tuna holding deep to the surface allowing the other methods to come into play.

Snapper are now in good numbers on most reef systems that surround Bermagui with the southern ones being more productive. Drifting over the reefs is the most popular method, however anchoring in berley trails is a very effective way of targeting large ones.

Setting baits at various depths will cover where the snapper are holding, with pilchards, mackerel and striped tuna being the better baits. These can be used as strips, cubes or whole and if small fish are a problem, use half a mackerel and float it back in the trail, fish of 6-7kg will often be taken with this method.

Other popular species of reef fish are around in good numbers and anglers will end up with some fine bags of mixed fish. Morwong, nannygai, pigfish, ocean perch, large tiger flathead and many more are all on the short list, plus it is also the time of year to target Tassie trumpeter out on the Twelve Mile Reef.

Closer to shore, becoming ever more popular is the use of soft plastics bounced around bommies and shallow reef complexes. This method is encountering a variety of species from reef dwellers, such as snapper to mid and top water fish in the form of kingfish to small tuna. Bermagui has good structure around its shoreline providing plenty of options for anglers wishing to use this technique.

Most of the estuaries that are open to the ocean are fishing extremely well towards the entrances. This is due to offshore water temperatures being warmer than those in the upper reaches of the systems. As the tide rises the warm water stimulates fish into feeding. The use of berley will encourage fish like flathead, yellowfin bream, trevally and more to feed more frequently. Striped tuna is the best bait in berley trails cut into cubes, and the frame can be used in the berley bucket.

Start fishing in the channels until the tide rises sufficiently onto the flats, then berley to the oysters and other obstructions. While doing this, anglers can explore other areas such as weed beds with baits like nippers. The last of the outgoing tide and first of the incoming will produce good luderick around the bridge and break wall on cabbage and green weed.

Bream are in good numbers on most beaches and again the use of berley and tuna will secure good bags. Lots of salmon, a few tailor, the odd flathead and gummy sharks have all been encountered recently. Look for beaches with deep gutters, especially for the sharks, and for bream look anywhere there is good water adjacent to the rocks.

Drummer fishing off the rocks is now at its best. Late evening or first light is the prime time. Bermagui has some great areas around the main headland and Blue Pool to chase these fish. Baits like cunjevoi and prawns used in conjunction with bread as berley will do the job nicely.

Sadly Brogo is starting to cool down with water temps dropping. Searching with deep diving and bibless rattling lures is still producing some fish with spinnerbaits probably being the best. Bass in the river systems are starting to congregate in pools prior to moving down stream to spawn and are producing some reasonable fishing.

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