Offshore and inshore, it’s fishing heaven at present
  |  First Published: March 2015

Anglers fishing offshore from Merimbula are having an awesome time of it lately, especially those after marlin and other game species. The action has been fast and furious on the billfish front, with almost all crews getting multiple shots per day.

Striped marlin are the predominant species being caught, with most fish around the 80-100kg mark. There's been the odd better fish to 130kg as well, with reports of black marlin being caught no more than a few kilometres offshore. That's pretty exciting stuff for the smaller boats, because they can get amongst the big stuff as well.

The 70-fathom line has been the most productive and consistent recently, so the extra journey to the shelf hasn't been needed on a lot of occasions. This could change though, depending on bait, current and water temperature, as every day is different. Over the next few weeks, more black and blue marlin should turn up, as both these species are being caught north of Merimbula and in good numbers.

Trolling skirted pushers has been the most productive method for the marlin, though switch-baiting live baits will also work. I know of a few locals who are having great success trolling skip baits, especially when a bait ball is located. Skipping striped tuna or bonito would be the go here. There's also been yellowfin tuna to 20kg, mahimahi to 24kg, plus a few shortbill spearfish in between marlin bites, so the action is widespread.

Closer to shore, the kings have been pretty good off Long Point, but they can be hard to entice at times. Having the freshest of live baits is the secret, with a few models around 6kg falling victim to deeper trolled minnows closer to shore.

Those after bread and butter species are doing extremely well, with sand flathead in big numbers. These tasty table fish can be found from 30-40m, with The Sticks down near Pambula a great place to start. You can expect a few gummy sharks when targeting flatties, with the odd snapper as well.

The beaches continue to fish well for all the usual species, with salmon in solid numbers. Any beach with a deep gutter is holding fish, with Haycock, Tura and North Tura the pick of them. Some sambos are pushing 3kg, with metal slices, surf poppers and pilchards on paternoster rigs all working well. There's good bream chewing too, with the rockier corners of the beaches the place to fish on a flooding tide. The northern end of North Tura near Bournda Island is a hotspot that's been fishing particularly well of late. Using pipis or beach worms in conjunction with berley has proven a dynamite way to catch them. Expect a few whiting while targeting the bream, with fish to 40cm plus on the cards.

Those anglers fishing the stones for the pelagics have also had some fun. Using whole ganged pilchards cast out and slowly retrieved has seen kingfish, bonito, and some huge salmon to 4kg landed. Throwing chromed sliced metals up to 50g has also worked, with most headlands producing the goods. The better ones have been Tura Head, Merimbula Wharf, and both Short and Long Point. Tura Head is the pick of them all, but it’s a decent walk in from Headland Drive to the rock platform below. You can expect this action to last for a few months yet. For anglers targeting bread and butter species like blackfish and drummer, Short Point is certainly the place to fish.

In the estuaries, Merimbula Lake has been a standout. For a small bit of water, it holds some cracking fish. I guided there recently and it fished well. All the usual species were caught, with flathead, legal snapper, bream, flounder and heaps of big tailor coming aboard. Considering it’s on our doorstep, it’s seriously under-rated, but if no one wants to fish there, well no complaints from us! A few locals are getting some solid bream and whiting in the channel towards the entrance. It’s quite shallow there, so late afternoons are better when boat traffic is at a minimum. Better baits include live bass yabbies, and squirtworms if you can get them.

At Pambula there’s some nice flatties in the main basin, with water depths of 3-5m the go. Casting smaller soft plastics and blades has worked well, with the flats producing a few bream and whiting on surface lures. The channel towards the entrance is hard to fish at the moment, with red algae in full bloom. It makes fishing almost impossible with foul-ups, but once the water cools again it will go away. If you persist, the rewards are flathead, trevally, whiting and bream. You would be better off using bait here, with nippers, striped tuna cubes and worms all working.


A cracking black bream caught on the flats by skipping plastics — great fun in a foot of water!


Stuie Hindson with a nice mulloway. This day involved a solid bite that saw 4 mulloway tagged and released.

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