Anglers ecstatic for estuary captures
  |  First Published: December 2015

Last season saw unseasonably hot water temperatures from the ocean to the estuaries, and hopefully we are going to see this warm water backing up for some of the same exciting angling we had last year.

Yellowfin tuna are being captured out towards the Continental Shelf and further afield. Lure fishing covers more ground, so a well-presented spread of lures will produce on a regular basis. A mix of skirted, bibles, and deep diving lures will cover most aspects when trolling for tuna and best of all, will provide a pattern as to what lure preference the fish may have. Often whatever mimics the food source fish are dependent on or where they are feeding in the water column. Deep diving lures often produce a strike from fish hesitant to come to the surface and once hooked can excite other fish in the school to the lure pattern.

For marlin, skirted lures are important. Marlin will also take the diving lures although the hook up rate will not be as good as the skirts. With marlin already around, things are looking good for later in the season but for now concentrate around the edge of the Shelf and further out. A well-structured lure pattern will also attract a variety of different species including recent schools of albacore, striped tuna and the occasional mako shark all captured whilst trolling. Makos often follow tuna schools and are a real bonus when taken on a lure. If you know sharks are in the area and you wish to target them, berley will give you the best results.

If game fishing is not your scene, try for kingfish at Montague Island or reef fishing south of Bermagui. The kingies have been good already this season with fish responding to both jigs and bait. Sizes are mixed so you may need to do some weeding to get fish of size. Remember there are size limits as well as marine park restrictions so check it out first to avoid embarrassment. Perhaps as a result of less commercial pressure, the reef fishing has been excellent. Flathead are the main stay with one of the best seasons in many years. Large tiger and big sand flathead are being caught just about anywhere with the 50m mark due east of Bermagui providing close easy access to these fish. Around the other reefs there have been plenty of morwong entertaining anglers. Mixed in are some late season snapper, pretty pigfish, an odd gummy shark, plus those ever present jackets.

There has been lots of small baitfish around lately providing food for schools of salmon and tailor either around the rocks or beaches. White bait and small slimey mackerel are the food source and any lure resembling them will work, as well as bait. Using bait can also get you onto some lovely bream or trevally patrolling around the bait schools. One of the best activities anyone can do at this time of year is to go prawning, and there are abundant prawns to be found. A fun family adventure, the reward is a tasty bucket of fresh prawns that everyone loves and so do the estuary fish.

When you have good prawn stock in the lakes and rivers, estuarine fish species are gorging themselves on them while the food is available, which provides good angling. Most of the common species like dusky flathead, bream, whiting, jewfish and many more will be encountered on both lures (soft plastics in the early mornings have been very exciting) and bait. The estuaries this season is as good as it gets.

Not to be left out, the sweet water fishing in Brogo Dam for Australian bass is firing. Hot days are leading to balmy evenings at the dam producing large insect hatches and excellent fly and surface lure activity for anglers. Fish are of a mixed size range to 45cm, but as most seasoned bass anglers know it doesn’t take a very large fish to get the heart racing. Try trolling through the daylight hours, jigging small lures or bobbing shrimp (don’t be frightened to try some of those fresh prawns as bait when bobbing, they work just fine). For the more adventurous angler, walk into the holes on the river below the dam wall, there are plenty of bass there which will need more effort to extract than in the dam.

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