The local reefs around the Merimbula area have been going great guns of late, and I expect this action to continue for the next few months. The majority have produced the goods on most days, but moving around and locating the fish on the sounder has certainly improved catch rates for switched on anglers.
Snapper numbers have been pleasing, with the average around the 1kg mark. Not huge, true, but what they lack in size they certainly make up for in numbers. A lot of these schooling fish have been on the edge of the reef where the hard ground meets the gravel. You can usually pick the difference up on the sounder pretty easily, and then either drift over the area or anchor and drift lightly weighted baits down a berley trail. Better baits to use are fresh squid, whole pilchards, or striped tuna strips, with fishos using soft plastics getting into them too. Having a few live baits in the tank can pay dividends, as kingfish and bonito are real possibilities at this time of year.
Hot spots to try are Long, Turingal and Horseshoe reefs, and Lennards Island south of Pambula. Other species like morwong, pigfish, flathead and gummy sharks can be expected, especially when drifting.
Out wider, the pelagic action will be in full swing. A number of good yellowfin to 40kg have been captured already this season, with sporadic catches of albacore. The water is hovering around 20°, with striped tuna numbers on the increase. This all looks promising for an early showing of striped marlin. Let’s hope these fine sportfish make it this far down the coast, as last season the marlin action was ordinary at best.
Trolling skirted lures from the 70f line eastwards is the go this early in the season. Look for water temperature changes, tide lines, bait schools and birds. Concentrate your efforts around these for best results.
Closer to shore, the estuaries are also firing. Both Merimbula and Pambula lakes are the places to fish, with all estuarine species available. Flathead are the main species targeted, with fish to 95cm on the cards. Anglers using a variety of different methods will catch fish, but the soft plastics’ brigade should do well this month. The flatties will be more active as the water warms, so concentrate your efforts around the weed-fringed edges, which are abundant in both estuary systems.
In the channels, bream, blackfish and trevally are the main targets, with fresh or live prawns, yabbies and striped tuna cubes the gun baits. If fishing from land, wading the sand flats just west of the fisheries office near the bridge on Merimbula Lake is a great place to stalk whiting. Using lightly weighted baits like nippers or squirt worms on a rising tide should put some tasty fillets in the pan. You’re a good chance at a flattie and bream also, so it's definitely worth a look.
The local beaches have been a little quiet of late, but with the increased water temperatures bream and whiting are likely to be be chewing. Most beaches with a gutter close to shore should produce a fish or two. Pipis, beach worms or fresh prawns would be the preferred baits; just fish these on the incoming tide for best results.
A light running sinker rig is all that’s required, with just enough weight to get the bait to the bottom. A lot of anglers fish too heavy when targeting bread and butter species. Long casts are generally not needed and the fish are usually just past the shore dump. A little berley here will also help, with crushed pipi shells being a favourite of mine. Better beaches to try are Haycock, Tura and North Tura.
This month should see some great action from the stones. Anglers fishing for surface speedsters like salmon, tailor, small kingfish, striped tuna, bonito and frigate mackerel are in for some fun. Using chromed lures with high geared reels will account for a lot of these, especially the tuna species. Lures from as small as 15g work, but a lot will depend on what bait species the pelagics are after. After catching a fish, it’s a good idea to take the time and investigate its stomach contents. You can then identify the size of baitfish and adjust lure size accordingly. I know it’s a bit more work and time consuming, but it could just be the difference between a nice session and a memorable one. Places like Tura Head, Long Head and the main wharf inside Merimbula Bay are worth a look.
Dan with a cracking 48cm estuary perch prior to release.
A ripper. The sort of black bream any angler would be happy with.Reads: 623