It's no secret that Narooma's Wagonga Inlet is a favourite estuary haunt of mine. It has an abundance of different species that are catchable using a variety of techniques, but even after fishing this pristine estuary for 30 plus years, it still amazes me how well it fishes at times.
Well Wagonga is back to its absolute best. The place is alive with fish, and best of all they want to play the game. The last few weeks have seen some of the best mulloway angling that I can recall. We have managed 9 solid fish while guiding there lately, with just as many lost due to pulled hooks. That may not sound many to some, but for this neck of the woods it's quite a few fish.
Most are averaging 80-90cm, so solid models, but there are quite few bigger fish being hooked also. We have used soft plastics most of the time, and it may seem a little weird, but smaller fish style plastics around 80mm have been the go. Using bigger plastics 100mm and up means you will struggle, so stick to the smaller stuff.
The mulloway are widespread, with the key being to locate the bait and concentrate efforts there. There's an abundance of whitebait, glassies and frogmouth pilchards throughout the system, so find them and you will find the predators.
Mulloway aren’t the only critters chewing. Flathead numbers are excellent, with heaps of 45-50cm fish to be caught. It's possible to get 20-25 legal fish a session at present, it's that good. The bonus of using slightly smaller plastics means you get a good bag of bycatch in between mulloway bites. Bream, snapper, flounder and tailor will keep you interested and provide a quality feed if you desire. This action should continue for a month or so; as long as the water hovers around that 20-21 degree mark and the bait stays there, I can't see any reason why it will change. Let’s cross the fingers and hope so anyway.
Anglers fishing offshore continue to reap the rewards, with the marlin bite not looking like slowing down any time soon. It's been an incredible season for the beaks — I would say the best bite since the early 2000s when it was a belter of a year. Almost every boat that heads wide are having shots at marlin. Most succeed, but a few don't. It's not uncommon for experienced crews to get 6-8 bites a day, mainly off bait balls, but trolling is producing results also.
The majority of marlin are stripes, but there's definitely more blacks this month than previously. A few of the them are sizeable fish, with specimens to 180kg being captured. I've heard of bigger fish lost too, but that’s always the way, isn't it? With the water still warm and plenty of bait present, I’d expect the beaks to be around for 6 or so more weeks, which is great for the game fraternity.
This month will also see yellowfin tuna in better numbers. There's been sporadic captures whilst targeting marlin by those trolling, with fish to 50kg. As we head further into the month, cubing becomes another dynamite method. It's a little more work, but the rewards should justify the effort.
At Montague Island, the kings are on 1 day, and then have the next 7 off. They are becoming very frustrating for anglers, as their bite times seem to be getting smaller every year. I'm not sure why, but I do believe that the seals have something to do with it. There must be 3000 plus seals there now and that’s a lot of fish that needs to be eaten, so maybe the kings have wised up and are moving elsewhere. When you do get a few, live bait and jigs have worked, but you will lose 3 out of 5 to the seals, there's that many.
The bottom bouncers are having better luck, with heaps of sand flathead in 30-35m of water. Better areas seem to be straight off Dalmeny Headland, with the chance at the odd gummy shark also. Those after snapper have done okay, but you do have to move around to locate them. Further north at Potato Point is the place to fish, with fresh squid and pilchards the preferred baits to use. The next 3 months will see the bigger reds move in close as the cuttlefish run gets into full swing.
On the beaches, bread and butter species like whiting, bream and mullet continue to feed on the close-in gutters. Lightly weighted beachworms and pipi baits will do the job, with the northern end of Brou Beach a standout. There's some cracking gutters there that are holding a stack of fish.
If you’re after a bit more sport, then salmon are available in great numbers, with Shiners and baits on paternoster rigs the go. The rockhopping crews will have stacks of fun this month, with blackfish, groper, bream and drummer starting to fire up nicely. Casting lightly weighted baits like cunjevoi, prawns and cabbage weed will entice enough fish for a nice feed. Better ledges to try include Golfie Rocks in town (Hole 3, Hogan’s Hole), the southern wall at the breakwall, or Dalmeny Headland about 5km to the north.
If targeting pelagic species, these headlands will also produce salmon, tailor and bonito, with whole pilchards on ganged hooks the best.Reads: 464