Merimbula's game fishing fraternity are in a buzz of excitement as bluefin fever kicks well and truly in. The last two weeks have been epic for this small port as local and visiting anglers get amongst the SBT on offer.
It's great to see 30-40 trailer boats in Merimbula’s so called ‘quiet time’ heading offshore to have some fun.
The blues have been wide with some days 60-80km of travel is needed to get to the fishing grounds. That's a long way, but if the conditions are right and you have an experienced crew then there should be no problems.
The SBT have responded well to trolled pushers, especially the bigger fish upwards of 70kg. When trolling you get to cover that much extra ground to locate the fish, when you do, you can revert to a cube/berley trail and get them at the back of the boat. It's exciting when this happens and you will find it's possible to catch them on poppers and jigs on spin tackle. You tend to find though that the school fish between 40-60kg are the culprits you will catch. The larger fish are generally a little deeper and will be harder to attempt at times, but it's still adrenalin running stuff.
Mixed in with the SBTs are yellowfin tuna to 60kg, they are certainly not as thick as the SBT but they are there. Most of the yellowfin being caught are by the trollers.
If tuna isn't your thing and sharks are, then you’re in for a treat. There's been some cracking mako sharks around following the tuna schools and I've heard of a few 200kg+ fish being hooked but lost due to bite-offs. In saying that, makos to 120kg have been caught regularly mostly by anglers cubing but they are partial to a trolled pusher as well.
Closer to shore, the snapper are still going great guns and I can't see it slowing down any time soon. It's so good to see these fine table fish as a year-round proposition, especially for the locals, big travel distances are not needed and you get a great feed for the family.
Most reefs are holding snapper but this month they will head into deeper water now the cuttlefish run has finished. Better baits to try include squid, cuttlefish and pilchards with the soft plastic brigade getting their fair share as well. I'd look at Horseshoe Reef to the south and White Cliffs to the north for your best chance.
Those after sand flatties won't have too many problems. Try straight off Tura Head in 40m of water, you should be right there at present.
In the estuaries, it will only get better as the month rolls on, we have had very cold water in close thus making some estuary dwellers a little sluggish. Flathead will come out of hibernation as the water warms, with both Pambula and Merimbula lakes worth a look. Try fishing smaller soft plastic prawn imitations around the ribbon weed edges in 3-4m of water. The jelly prawn has grown a bit since it entered the systems in June/July so it makes sense to fish something like it. You’re in with a good chance at bream, trevally and even blackfish with these presentations but remember to fish them slow.
What is chewing big time are the pelagic species, like salmon, tailor and trevally. These cold water species have been excellent all winter and still will be chewing big time this month. The channels in both systems are good places to start with the flooding tide and your best chance at a cracking session.
Those fishing the beaches and rocks are going okay on the pelagics, with salmon and tailor in good numbers. It's not red-hot fishing but still fun, especially when fishing lighter outfits with gelspun line. Anglers casting smaller metal shiners are probably out fishing the bait guys, mainly due to the smaller numbers of fish around. You get to cover a lot more ground, especially when fishing the beaches. Tura and North Tura still remain the pick of beaches to target salmon, but this month will see and increase in bream and whiting numbers as they get ready to enter the estuaries once again.Reads: 384