A bumper season for billfish
  |  First Published: March 2015

Finally, after many years of ordinary billfishing, the marlin have been back with vengeance and still they continue, hopefully for many more weeks to come.

Marlin are in their best numbers in March, concentrating around the Twelve Mile Reef area. All species can be encountered at this time of the year, feeding on the vast baitfish schools that congregate over the reefs. Also feeding on the baitfish, anglers may encounter shortbill spearfish, mako and other sharks, mahimahi and usually plenty of schools of small to mid-range yellowfin tuna.

Preferred method at this time of year is to troll live slimy mackerel, or my favourite, a live or skipped frigate mackerel. Frigates can often be acquired by trolling a small fly a long way out the back while trolling live slimies for the big predators.

Another popular method is switch baiting with lures and teasers without hooks, attracting the marlin to the boat where the lure is replaced with a live bait. This is a very spectacular way in which to catch a marlin.

Kingfish around Montague Island are in good numbers at present, averaging 6-7kg, with some fish up to 15kg being encountered. Most have been taken the traditional way using jigs, squid and live bait, however, don’t be frightened to troll bibbed and bibless lures over the western reefs, as this will also produce fish.

The start of autumn usually sees good numbers of larger snapper frequenting the coastline. The reefs south of Bermagui such as The Brothers, Lobster Patch and Goalen Head area attracting good numbers of reds. Most anglers prefer to drift with conventional paternoster rigs using squid and cut fish bait, however, more and more are anchoring and berleying using large drift baits such as whole and half slimy mackerel, which produces fish in the 7-8kg bracket.

Other reef fish are also very plentiful, with morwong (both blue and jackass), tiger flathead, ocean perch, pigfish and leatherjackets also featuring in regular bags.

Fishing the deep water off the Twelve Mile Reef will produce most reef fish in good numbers, and if you feed a live bait out under a balloon, you may be pleasantly surprised with a billfish hookup.

Large schools of southern yellowfin bream are frequenting most estuaries around Bermagui at present. Fish up to 46cm are not uncommon, with most averaging around the 40cm mark. Berleying with striped tuna at the start of an incoming tide will account for a lot of these beautiful chrome-plated fish. Using baits like nippers, prawns or worms is producing their fair share of fish as the tide creeps over the flats. Lures, both hard and soft, will also take fish, however, not as effectively as fresh bait.

Large flathead are also being encountered, especially in the Bermagui River, on lures, live bait, and in berley trails while fishing for bream. Good size trevally are getting into the act, along with some very large mullet.

Luderick are plentiful around the bridge boat ramp and rock walls towards the harbour. Cabbage and green weed are producing most fish on the last of the run-out tide and the first of the run-in. Also, reasonable numbers of luderick are still being taken on nippers further up the estuary around the weed beds. Some very nice whiting are making their presence felt in the shallow water over the nipper flats.

Calmer conditions are allowing anglers to fish the rocks more often, which is producing some excellent catches. Fishing of an evening as the shadows of the cliffs move over the water, berleying with bread, and then using cunjevoi as bait has produced some excellent catches of black drummer. Fish around the 2kg mark have been the average, with some top bream and trevally featuring as well.

Spinning off the rocks with large metal lures has produced salmon and tailor, with an odd kingfish making a pleasant surprise. Small frigate mackerel have also been a regular catch using lighter line and small metal lures retrieved at a fast rate.

Bream that have not yet moved into the estuaries have been encountered regularly on most beaches adjacent to the rocks. Again, berleying these areas with striped tuna will produce more fish, however, using more traditional baits like beachworms and pipis will turn up both bream and nice size whiting. Salmon and tailor fishing is also excellent at present along most beaches, with some very nice gummy sharks being captured on the full moon.

Black cricket numbers have exploded in the Brogo area, allowing the bass a regular food source. Anglers using them on light line are experiencing some fantastic fishing in Brogo Dam at present. Cricket imitations in both flies and lures are therefore having their fair share of success. Surface lures, especially of an evening, are producing exciting topwater fishing.

During daylight hours, anglers are having limited success using deeper lures such as spinnerbaits around the weed beds. The Brogo River is still producing good fish below the dam wall, with most popular techniques being effective.


The marlin have been flying high all season and the bite is continuing.


Not everything you catch on a line has fins!


Prawns may still be active early morning, so match the hatch.

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