Estuary pelagics on fire
  |  First Published: August 2007

With those icy south-westerly winds blowing straight off the snow, gloves, beanies, scarves and anything else that keeps you warm are required this month. But don’t let this deter you; some exceptional pelagic action is on offer, especially in the estuaries.

This is one of my favourite times to target Winter pelagics like big silver trevally, salmon and tailor. Every season these hard-fighting fish turn it on and Narooma’s Wagonga Inlet is a great starting place to target them.

The channels fish extremely well during Winter with trevally up to 2kg the main targets. Soft plastics on light jigheads bring a lot of fish undone with some thumping yellowfin bream also in on the act. We’ve managed some ripper blurters so far this Winter and the action won’t stop for awhile yet.

Anglers anchoring up and fishing fresh prawns have also hit paydirt, with berley a key ingredient for better catch rates.

With the salmon and tailor, the main basin a kilometre or so upstream from the main highway bridge is the place to fish. Keep a lookout for diving birds as they are a dead give-away that fish are feeding.

Quite often the fish won’t be feeding on the surface and the lake will look like a desert. Don’t give up and say there’s nothing about, there will be. The best thing to do is to have a poke around with your sounder and try to locate the bait, usually whitebait, glassies or pilchards.

Once you’ve found deep bait, cast 30g shiners and let them sink to the bottom. Quite often the tailor and in particular the bigger fish will be holding down deep, not on the surface.

It’s something so simple but a lot of anglers get the misconception that salmon and tailor feed only on the surface – not true. I have had some memorable days on the inlet fishing deep, often catching fish to 3kg. Sometimes letting the shiner hit the bottom also produces some sizeable snapper and the odd decent dusky flathead.

Up the back of the system the bream have been somewhat gun-shy with anglers having better success with smaller hardbody lures and occasionally poppers. Soft plastics have been OK but long, accurate casts are needed towards structure when the water is clear and this can be a little difficult in windy conditions. Use smaller presentations on the lightest jigheads where possible for the bream in clear water.

There have been some good bream and estuary perch up at Tuross Lake so it’s certainly worth a look up there. Concentrate your efforts towards the lower sections of this estuary.


Offshore during August is a lottery. What the water temperature and currents are doing will play a big part in deciding if it’s worthwhile fuelling up the boat.

Out wide southern bluefin tuna are the only possibilities in the cool water. Smaller skirted lures would be the best way to target them, covering a lot of water in the process.

At Montague Island we occasionally get kingfish on jigs at this time of year, but I wouldn’t put my house on it. Over recent weeks there have been sporadic catches of kings and bonito but I would save the fuel for a later date.

Inshore species like snapper, morwong and leatherjackets will be available but I suspect a lot of moving will be required to locate the fish in any numbers. Last season we got a few respectable reds in close.

Best way to target the snapper is to anchor and berley. Use lightly weighted baits like pilchards or fresh squid drifted down the trail. Throwing a few soft plastics around could also pay dividends. Potato Point would be the pick of the spots, with the close in reef at Brou also worth a look.


The beaches have been hit and miss. Just like everyone else along the east coast, we have had some huge swells lately. When they have tapered off, some good fishing has happened.

Salmon and tailor are the main targets but for those diehards who don’t mind the cold, gummy sharks are certainly worth chasing this month. There have already been a few quality fish caught with the best I have heard of going 14kg. Not a huge gummy but still great sport from the sand and a few mouth-watering fillets for the pan.

Best baits for the gummies are salmon and tailor fillets, fresh squid and whole pilchards. Better beaches to try are Narooma Main, Tilba, 1080 and the southern end of Brou.

For the salmon and tailor use paternoster rigs with a bait/popper combination or chrome lures up to 50g early mornings with a rising tide.

Anglers fishing the stones have had a hard time to with the pounding swells. Safety here is paramount and if in doubt about the conditions, give it a miss and live to try another day.

In favourable conditions expect some great angling after the blow. Snapper, blackfish, drummer, groper, salmon, tailor and bream will all have a chew.

It really depends on what you want to catch, but if you’re after a feed the drummer action should be fast and furious in the washes. Most platforms will hold fish but the better ones would be Dalmeny headland, Mystery Bay and the ledges at the golf course in town.

Cabbage and cunjevoi are the only baits you’ll need using berley sparsely for bets results.

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