If we were ever in doubt that Narooma and its surrounding waters had slowed as a tuna hotspot, those doubts have now been squashed. Hot off the press is the awesome news that local charter boat Playstation owned by Ben Bolton and skippered by young gun Nick Cowley have caught a yellowfin tuna of a lifetime for many. The whopping barrel weighed 98.2kg after spending a few hours on the deck, and would have been the magic 100kg fish straight out of the water.
What's more incredible is that it was caught on 15kg line whilst trolling a mixture of skirted pushers and bibbed minnows. The fight lasted several hours and was captured wide of the shelf around a temperature break.
Word is it wasn't the only fish seen or caught in the same vicinity, with several other yellowfin to 70kg captured and an another jumbo lost at the boat after a frantic three-hour struggle. It's awesome to see these big fish around and if the good water decides to stick around the next six weeks could be very memorable. The water temperature is fluctuating between 17-20ºC and it seems the big tuna are holding in these temperature breaks, sometimes on the warmer side but not always.
When it comes to deciding where to fish, a lot here will depend on holding bait, current and tide, but trolling lures through these temperature breaks seems to be the key to success. This may change and probably will, and I’d expect more tuna to be caught cubing/live baiting over the coming weeks. It's just not yellowfin being caught either – the longliners have been getting mega bluefin on the wider grounds so it shouldn’t be long before the sportfishing fraternity get amongst them also.
With so much happening on the tuna front you could forget how well Montague Island is fishing. This place is red-hot at the moment with kingfish galore and good-sized models to boot. Kings to 8kg are regular captures at present with the odd hoodlum upwards of 20kg wreaking havoc amongst anglers. These big kings can be seen smashing sauris on the northwest corner, and the Fowl House reef on the western side of the island is holding its fare share too. Trolling big deep diving minnows has worked on the larger fish, with jigs and live bait doing the damage on the school fish.
There's plenty of bonito mixed in with the kings and I have heard of a few smaller SBT of around 15kg getting caught on jigs also, so it’s a very interesting mix. How long this red-hot action will last is anyone’s guess, but if conditions with temperature, current, bait and tide remain the same, the action might just go right through winter. Let's hope so.
Closer to shore the bottom brigade are reaping the rewards of good conditions with snapper in excellent numbers. Almost all reefs are producing the goods with Brou, Potato Point and Tuross all firing at times.
Both anchoring and drifting are working, and using baits like squid and pilchards is the go with some of the better fish falling to larger stick-style soft plastics. I've said it before – this type of fishing isn't for everyone but if the conditions suit you may be pleasantly surprised at the results you may get.
In the estuaries August is usually the quietest month of the year, but if the last few weeks are anything to go by that won't happen. Yes, it depends on which system you’re fishing as to what species you will target but almost all estuarine species are catchable at present.
In Wagonga the pelagics are in solid numbers with tailor, salmon and trevally the main culprits. These supercharged speedsters are hammering the local whitebait schools, with the birds revealing their whereabouts pretty easily. If you look for the birds and fish you’re in for some serious fun on light gelspun. Cast either metal shiners or smaller bait imitation softies for best results. I recommend mixing it up as well; on some casts let your lure hit the bottom and work it back from the depths. This will give you a good chance at flathead, snapper and maybe a mulloway.
Those after a feed of flatties can't go wrong with Corunna and Dalmeny lakes both producing good eating-sized models, with the majority of fish around 40-45cm. At that size they’re ideal for the plate but remember to only take what you can eat in a sitting. You can always go back and get a few more at a later date.
On the beaches it's business as usual with salmon in solid numbers once you find them. Local beach guru Jack Dart has been getting his clients onto good numbers, with 30-40 fish sessions the norm. The salmon are quality fish too, averaging around 2kg or so. They’re solid fish and great fun on the silly string. Casting lightly weighted baits like beachworms has worked, and this also puts you in with a great chance at yellowfin bream and big winter whiting. I know Jack has been getting both these edible delights, so get some live beach worms and give it a crack. The better beaches include Coila, Brou, Narooma main and Tilba, with the afternoon making tides faring best.
For the rock hoppers, blackfish, drummer, groper and bream are doing the right thing with the drummer fishing particularly good at present. Casting fresh prawns, cunjevoi or cabbage in the washes will pay dividends, with Dalmeny headland, the golf course rocks and southern break wall all producing at times. Using a little berley will help but don't use too much or the pickers will wreak havoc on you.
If fishing for pelagics is your thing you won't be disappointed as salmon can be found on most ledges. I'd try Mystery Bay to the south or the Northern break wall on a draining tide. Whole pilchards rigged on ganged hooks are the go-to method.Reads: 1146