No local sanctuary zones
  |  First Published: September 2007

It’s a couple of months since the Batemans Bay Marine Park has come into force and, contrary to some media reports, Bermagui is not affected by the park at all.

In fact the park runs from Brush Island, north of Batemans Bay, to Wallaga Lake, some 10km north of Bermagui, so the immediate area around Bermagui and south remains unaffected.

I’ve been a guide in this area for the past 20 years, operating mainly in the Bermagui River south to the lakes and estuaries to Tathra and the marine park will not affect these areas. The Bermagui River, Nelsons Lagoon near Tathra and Mogareka Inlet (the Bega River) at Tathra are recreational fishing havens and have all been fishing extremely well. You can fish all through out these systems without fear of being punished for being in sanctuary zones.

Beach, rock and offshore fishing from Bermagui is also not affected unless you travel some significant distance north. Out and south of Bermagui is not affected by the park at all.

As most visitors and locals know, the areas south of Bermagui such as the Four Mile, Six Mile and Twelve Mile Reefs, and other well known areas even further down the coast are the prime fishing spots outside the park.

Offshore reef fishing is very good with morwong dominating most bags. Mixed in are tiger flathead that should increase in numbers as we advance into Spring.

Snapper have lingered from the cooler months to provide some nice bags. Some of these fish have been taken on soft plastics jigged in varying depths while others have been caught drifting with paternoster rigs and a mixture of baits with squid and tuna the best.

Water from 50m to 70m seems to be right, start on the edges of reefs for snapper and mowies and as you drift wide of the rock, tiger flatties will take over. Our reefs are not prominent structures and they may rise only a couple of metres so pay careful attention to your sounder and be prepared to drop on any lump, no matter how insignificant it may be.

These little ‘service stations’ in the middle of nowhere host some very nice fish. Conditions at this time of year are usually typically calm mornings building up to north-east winds freshening in the afternoons, so early starts will be necessary.

Beyond the Twelve Mile would be worth a look for Tassie trumpeter and more species which favour the deeper water. Some good news for those fishing the reefs is the plague of leatherjackets seemingly have moved on – at least for the moment.

With water temps down there is not a lot to report on the game scene. A few small albacore and striped tuna are around with those willing to put in a berley trail attracting the odd mako shark. If you berley around the Twelve Mile you can also fish the bottom for reef species.


Since the Winter storms the estuaries, rocks and beaches have taken their time to recover but have done so brilliantly. Channels have been carved in the estuaries, exposing structure for fish to congregate around and new snag piles have been formed by the floods.

Further up the system where the water is warmer is best at present, with an array of species being taken on lures and bait.

The beaches now have exposed rocks that obviously had been covered by sand for who knows how long. Anglers should look for this new structure on the beach and the adjacent rocks because these areas provide good cover and feeding areas for bream, drummer and a surprising number of other species.

Blue morwong are regular catches in the Spring.

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