With spring well and truly here and the water temperature on the rise, now is great time of year to wet a line around the Merimbula region. It really doesn't matter what you target or where, there's something to catch for everyone.
For myself and many other anglers, these estuaries will be high on our hit lists. Almost all species will play the game at some time throughout the month and I for one can't wait. The recent rains have flushed the estuaries creating perfect conditions and I expect the next period to be exceptional for angling. Those after monster flathead are in for a good time as both the Merimbula and Pambula basins will produce. These big girls will be hungry for big soft plastics, vibed lures, as well as live bait which is sure to catch fish at all times. There have been a handful of 75 to 85cm fish caught over recent weeks which is great to see so early in the season. I'd recommend concentrating around the ribbon weed edges on the perimeter of the lake with ideal water depths of 3-7m. You will get plenty of 40-50cm fish as well, so if you’re after a feed you will be appreciate this spot. Cast smaller plastics and you can expect trevally, bream, tailor, and smaller pinkie snapper when casting to these same edges. Those using fresh bait like live nippers or worms will start to see some solid whiting and bream on the flats and channels. The lower sections of both systems towards the estuary entrances are a good place to start with the flooding tide offering the best. As the water warms during the month, surface lures for bream and whiting will be another option and are a whole stack of fun.
Salmon are still in numbers with most beaches holding a few fish. These speedsters are responding to all methods, it really just depends on how you want to catch them. Anglers using baits like blue-bait and pilchards have certainly accounted for the bigger fish. Using a paternoster or single hook rig is the go when using larger baits. For those who want some sport, cast small chromes into the suds on light gel-spun for some serious fun. You can lose a fish when it throws the hook, to combat this, try replacing the treble with a decent straight shank single hook for better hook up to landing ratio. Mixed up with the sambos are some nice tailor and it won't be long before the mulloway start to show. I have recently heard whispers of a few jewfish caught up to a meter in length, so it may be worth a look. I'd expect a few decent gummy and school sharks to be caught also. Better beaches to try include North Tura, Tura Main and Haycock.
Outside anglers have done it tough of late but that will certainly change this month. We’ve had some cold, dirty water off Merimbula lately mainly from the estuaries cleaning out, but that will change quickly as the northern currents push south. North of Merimbula, the temperature charts are looking promising and hopefully those warmer fronts could hit our shores soon. When it does arrive, yellowfin tuna and albacore are possible appearances along the shelf and the wider area. Trolling a range of bibbed minnows and skirted pushers should do the trick early in the season.
Closer to shore the kings have been a little sporadic, but there's still been the odd big fish close to the headlands. Keen sport fishers with poppers, large soft plastics, stik minnows, and unweighted live slimy mackerel have caught these fish. This type of fishing isn’t for everyone but if you locate a good patch you’re in for some serious fun.
Those anglers fishing the stones have also enjoyed themselves. I know of kingfish up to 8kg coming from Tura Head, mainly caught on live bait. There have also been a few caught on poppers and bigger chromed slices. I had a look there recently and though I didn’t land one, I saw some extremely big boils on the surface which I knew were kings in excess of 10kg, exciting stuff. These are solid kingfish and there's a few there so it's worth a look. If you’re after a feed then Short Point, Long Point and Tura Head has seen a few pigs and blackfish caught. Better baits to use include cunjevoi, prawns, and cabbage. Those who have done alright are using burley sparsely, although a bit more preparation burley is certainly worth doing.Reads: 573