Well what a game fishing season it has been thus far, with a host of bluewater species showing up. This action should only get better as we head further into the month. Marlin is still the word amongst sportfishers, with some switched on crews getting 6-8 shots a day. That's awesome fishing in my books, with a mixture of black and striped marlin, and the occasional blue turning up out wider around the second dropoff.
Most beakies have been averaging 80-120kg, but the blues are certainly bigger. I've heard a few sob stories of late about the one that got away, but that's fishing. The stripes have been found from the 70f line to the shelf, with the traps up off Tuross holding quite a few. There's a stack of bait around them, mainly slimy mackerel, so if you find the bait you’re in for some serious fun. Most crews are trolling skirted lures, but when you can get the bait, switch baiting is deadly — especially on the stripes. Trolling skip baits has worked also.
The blue marlin have been a lot further out, where the water is a warm 25 degrees. I'd expect fish in excess of 350kg over the coming weeks, with more crews venturing wide with the right tackle to target these huge brutes. Trolling larger pushers up to 16” long is the go when targeting these bigger fish.
This season has also been the best l can recall for big mahimahi; fish to 25kg have been consistently caught, with multiple hookups occurring quite regularly. There's been some solid yellowfin tuna to 50kg being captured while trolling for marlin, with April usually the start of the tuna season. Every year at this time some sizeable jumbos turn up, with fish to 90kg possible. Mixed in with the yellowfin will be albacore and a host of shark species.
Closer to shore, Montague Island has been red-hot, with kingfish numbers awesome at present. It's definitely better now than it has been in previous weeks, so the rest of the season looks promising for the brutes. The kings can be found anywhere, with the north and western sides being the most productive. In saying that, when the current is pushing north, a look at the southern end around Aughinish Rock is the go. The fish have responded better to live bait, especially the bigger fish, with 8-9kg models common. There have been plenty of kings taken on jigs and soft-plastics as well, though the size is definitely smaller, with 70-80cm fish the norm.
If the kings are a little slow, there's sufficient bonito to keep things interesting, as well as snapper. The reddie fishing has been excellent and that should continue right through winter. We usually get a few snapper at this time of year, but not in the numbers seen at present. Some are getting their bags each outing, which is great to see with the average fish nudging 2kg — good quality snapper.
In the estuaries, Wagonga Inlet has been reasonably slow considering its reputation, but that should change over coming weeks. There certainly seems to be a lack of bait throughout the system, which may be a reason as to why it's slow. Don't get me wrong, you will still catch some quality fish there, but expect to work for them. The recent Flathead Classic saw 450 plus flathead caught and released, so not too bad I suppose — maybe I’m being a little harsh on the place. Those anglers who have done okay have fished early around tide changes, with some nice fish being captured. Most have fallen to live poddy mullet on the deeper dropoffs, and I've heard of a few mulloway taken on squid at night.
Up at Tuross it's a different story though, with bream, flathead, estuary perch, mulloway, whiting and blackfish all responding well at times. While guiding there we've managed a dozen or so mulloway over recent weeks. The fish are between 60-80cm, so not huge, but still great fun on light tackle. Some cracking flatties are coming from the shallower areas towards the entrance, with soft plastics fishing best. In the river itself, there's a heap of EPs for the taking, with bream and whiting making the sand flats home.
The rocks continue to fish well for salmon, bonito and smaller kingfish, with chromed slices and ganged pilchards catching plenty. This month may see some mac tuna turn up, with the golf course rocks in town and Mystery Bay to the south the pick of the spots to fish. I'd be using live bait like yellowtail or slimy mackerel, with both locations holding a stack of bait. A little berley and you'll have all the baits you require.
If pelagics aren’t your scene, you should be able to get a feed of blackfish. The southern breakwall at the entrance has been a hot spot, with cabbage the gun bait. A few locals have done well there, with some solid bream being caught on tuna strips. Again, berley is the key for more consistent results.
On the beaches, it's business as usual, with salmon in good numbers and most are holding fish. Anglers casting chrome lures through the suds are having a load of fun, especially on lighter tackle. If using bait, a paternoster rig will work, with bluebait and pilchards preferred. There's been good reports of bream and whiting coming from both Brou and Blackfellows Beach to the north of Narooma, with live beach worms and pipis being ideal baits.
Andy Kolber with a thumping silver trevally he caught while targeting bream.
When we netted it, his 70cm flathead spat out the remainder of another flattie!Reads: 356