Just get out there!
  |  First Published: January 2015

This is the best time of year to fish around Bermagui, with all forms of fishing on offer, so do whatever it takes to get out there!

Estuary fishing couldn’t be better, with warm water throughout the systems making for good fishing. On the tidal flats, using squirtworms or nippers with the rising tide will produce whiting, bream, blackfish and a host of other species. Small lures and flies work too, and if you haven’t got a boat, the weather should be warm enough to wade as the tide recedes.

Places that are fishing the best in the Bermagui River are around any form of structure, whether it be at high or low tide. These areas give fish cover and a safety zone, and may come in the form of weed beds, rock and oyster bars, dropoffs or man-made features like bridge pylons and boat jetties. Unlike what you see on television, you don’t have to be throwing baits and lures right into the structured areas. Try holding out from them and bring the fish to you, where they can be played out in clear water, reducing the chance of breakoffs. To do this, consider using berley. It’s surprising how far fish (especially bream), will travel from their safety zone when enticed by a scent.

Other lakes and estuaries surrounding Bermagui that are closed to the ocean may require a different approach. In these systems, fish have to travel regularly to feed, and this is good news for those wishing to use lures or flies. Polaroid fish in shallow areas to see what patterns are forming. If fish are moving with a stop-start routine and pausing often, this generally means they are looking to feed and can be targeted. When grouped and holding in snags (bream especially), they tend to be resting, although they might still be enticed by a well-placed lure.

Offshore game fishing is presently at its best, with large numbers of marlin, tuna, sharks, and mahimahi patrolling the vast baitfish schools that come with the warm summer water. The edge of the continental shelf, the 12, 6 and even in close as the 4 Mile Reef will all hold their share of baitfish, and along with them come the predators.

Every marlin season is different, where tides, moon phases and current dictate where the fish are holding. A well-set lure pattern trolled behind boats will undoubtedly produce fish; not only marlin, but other pelagic species as well. If water temperatures are up, start trolling close to shore and work your way out to find where the fish are located. Once found, work the areas over, whether it be with baits or sticking with lures.

Sharks are best targeted with berley, and for best results include plenty of tuna in it. Out over the shelf will be the better area, with makos, blues, hammerheads and tigers all prowling the warm water. Berleying the 12 Mile will also produce sharks, but with the added bonus of being able to bottom fish as well.

Speaking of bottom fishing, it’s also tops at present, with most species being encountered. Montague Island has good numbers of kingfish surrounding it, along with other reef dwellers. From there, the step out from Tilba back towards Bermagui has sand flathead, red gurnard and the odd gummy shark. Closer to shore out from Camel Rock, plenty of small to mid-range sand flathead are being caught.

South of Bermagui, the reefs through to Goalen Head and as far out as the 12 Mile are producing large amounts of quality bottom dwellers. Snapper, mowies, tiger flathead, kingies and a host of others are all likely to be encountered in surprisingly increasing numbers. This may be a result of the reduction of commercial fishing activities within the area due to the government buyback scheme. Bermagui no longer has a permanent longline fleet and is reduced to 2 trawlers and a few bait and dropline boats. This is good news for the recreational fishos.

With warm water pushing right into the shoreline, this is allowing beach and especially rock anglers a chance of some good pelagic action. The deeper rock platforms around Bermagui Headland, Mystery Bay to the north, and Bunga to the south, are seeing a host of different surface feeders coming within range of the land-based angler. Those wishing to target these species from the stones (which might include kingfish, tuna, sharks, the occasional marlin, and on a lesser scale salmon and bonito), may do so using a variety of techniques.

Lure fishing has grown in popularity with the introduction of large soft plastics to the scene. The old high speed retrieves with large metal lures hasn’t been forgotten either, and is producing a variety of different speedsters. Live baiting is still the favoured way of producing larger fish from the rocks, and some of the baits used are pretty exciting too. Salmon in the 1-2kg bracket often find themselves under a balloon with a hook in their backs, as do frigate mackerel, slimies, tailor, bonito, yellowtail and squid. When one of these gets eaten, you better be prepared to hang on!

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