School is in, while the fish are out
  |  First Published: January 2015

School is back and this is a great time to fish the south coast. It is definitely the best time to try a variety of fishing styles, from the blue ocean, rock or beach, estuary and up into the fresh, so please enjoy.

Out to sea, warm currents have brought a host of game fish pursuing the schools of baitfish. Marlin are definitely on most fishos’ hit list, and at this time of year they will come within range of even the smallest of boats. Lures are probably the easiest way to cover ground to find concentrations of them. Find the bait schools, work them over with the lures in conjunction with your sounder looking for larger fish shadowing the schools. Quite often there may be predators around the bait, although not feeding, so persist by staying with it until the bite happens. A variety of tuna, sharks, mahimahi and kingfish should be in the same vicinity as the marlin, and will also respond to a well-set lure pattern. The sharks may not be as attracted to the lures, but definitely will be to berley and live baits, while hammerheads are partial to trolled live striped tuna.

Reef and bottom fishing is producing a great variety of table fish, and whether you go north, south or straight out the front, you should score a reasonable feed without too much effort. Snapper and morwong are the most targeted species whilst bottom fishing, however, the variety out there may surprise you a little. For a bit of fun, try using a light spin outfit with braided line and drop some soft plastic jigs around the headlands; it can be very exciting. Flathead are also in good numbers at present and anglers should have little trouble gathering a feed from the more popular grounds.

At this time of year the warm water will push right in onto the coast, and so will the predators. Land based fishing is at its prime and a host of different species may be encountered from the rock platforms that surround Tathra and the old wharf jutting out over the ocean. Being as popular as it is during the holidays, the wharf still produces outside these times, with fewer anglers vying for positions. This is the time to drift live baits out under balloons, just to see who might be visiting the area. Anything from tuna to sharks, kingfish, salmon and the possibility of a marlin; they’re all available from this fine old structure.

Wandering into the estuaries, the Bega River is all fired up and hot to trot. Anglers are experiencing great fishing towards the entrance on flathead, using both lures and baits. When the river is closed to the ocean and a little stained in colour, try using lures with a lot of gold in them, as I have found they reflect well in the discoloured water.

On the flats, whiting are on the move, with some very nice fish being taken on worms and nippers. Mixed in are a few good bream, flounder and blackfish. Some of the deeper holes around the bridge and along the rock walls have produced the odd mulloway, mostly taken at night on strips of tailor or live mullet, although a few have been caught during daylight hours on lures.

Staying down towards the entrance, try your luck prawning at night. The river has been one of the best areas this year, with the prawns now at a very good size. If you intend to keep some as bait, place them in a bucket with wet seagrass over them and use fresh the next day.

Nelsons Lagoon, only a few minutes north of Tathra, is well worth a look. This picturesque little tidal estuary has been producing excellent results for anglers wading and fishing both baits and lures. Most species will be encountered here and it’s a great place to take the family for a day out. Back into the river and further upstream, bream, flathead and some very nice estuary perch have kept lure fishing anglers entertained. The fish are scattered throughout the system, so there is no particular area fishing well; basically, if it looks good, fish it.

The Brogo River runs into the Bega River system and at the head of it lies Brogo Dam and its numerous stocked bass. It’s been a great year for them, with fish up to 40cm not uncommon. Fish whenever it suits, but for the most fun look for those lovely balmy nights when the insect life is active and surface fishing is at its best.

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