Finding gold in the estuaries
  |  First Published: January 2016

The summer holiday crowd is with us for the next month or so, but don’t let this deter you, as there will still be some terrific angling on offer.

Anglers fishing outside have it all laid out before them with kingfish, yellowfin tuna, albacore, black and striped marlin, plus a heap of different shark species ready to play the game. The water will be hovering around 22-24°C, which is ideal for these pelagic species, it really just depends on what you want to target and how. I know of several solid striped marlin already caught over the last few weeks, so the season ahead looks promising.

Kingfish have been a little difficult of late, but will improve once we get more southerly current. This is important for kings, especially the bigger fish, and when using live bait. The fish that have been captured recently are averaging 5-6kg, not huge but still a whole lot of fun! Live bait and jigs work effectively, and the north end of the island fishes best. On some days catching the live bait has been more difficult than the kingfish, but if you put in the time to get the bait, the rewards may just be worth it. Some of the bigger kings have mixed in with the bonito on the surface and taken on trolled deep divers. This is a great way to target them as you can cover a lot of ground. If you do hook up, throw a live bait over on another outfit and you’ll be surprised by how many times this results in a double hook-up. A little wider and the marlin action will be in full swing. Expect both black and striped with the chance of a big blue if fishing wide enough. Troll a mixture of different coloured skirts early in the season, though switch-baiting when bait balls are evident down deep or on the surface will certainly work. Anywhere from the 70-fathom line to the second drop is the place to fish, and success will depend on prevailing currents, bait activity and current direction.

Salty success

There should be some reasonable yellowfin tuna to 40kg, plus albacore and a variety of shark species. I did hear of a 62kg yellowfin caught while trolling for a minute.

Those after a feed will do well as sand and tiger flathead are presently in great numbers. Fishing in 40m straight of Dalmeny has been excellent, with bag limits reached on most outings. Anglers who target snapper have found conditions a little harder, but once you find a patch – hang on, it’s pretty good! You will have to work for them, but the deeper reefs in 55-60m straight off Potato Point are a good place to start searching.

The rock fishing brigade are finding good numbers of salmon and bonito. Both these species are in solid numbers close in and a stack of fun on spin tackle. Casting smaller shiners around 40g is recommended, but those casting ganged pilchards on heavier tackle have also fared well. Expect to see a few kings in the next few weeks especially down at Mystery Bay and the Golf course rocks in town.

On the beaches the warmer water has pushed both bream and whiting high up on anglers’ lists. These bread and butter species can be found on almost any local beach with a half decent gutter close to shore. Long casts are not required here, so a light outfit with a running sinker rig baited with live beach worms or pipis will see some nice fillets for the pan. Better beaches to try include Narooma main, Tilba and Brou Beach just north of Dalmeny. Brou has been exceptional of late, and salmon, tailor and gummy sharks have all succumbed to bait fished on heavier tackle.

Estuary madness

In the estuaries, where do I even begin? The estuaries are firing, though Wagonga Inlet has been a little slow after the recent heavy rains from last month. This system will pick up once the water warms and clears further. The smaller systems like Corunna and Dalmeny continue to produce excellent flathead with 40cm fish the average model. It’s quite easy to get your 10 fish limit but please remember to only take what you require. All methods are working, blades, soft plastics and bait fishos are all having a ball. Tuross has been excellent, but increased holiday boat traffic can spook the fish. There’s been a few nice mulloway caught over recent weeks but certainly no guts to them. Local angler Flex did get a 13.3kg fish on a poddy mullet while targeting croc sized flathead so there are some big fish in there at present.

Other species like flathead, bream, whiting and particularly luderick are abundant through the system with mullet in the thousands. This all adds up to a very healthy system, which can only get better as the months progress. The upper reaches of Tuross around Commerang have been quite good for bass, with switched on anglers getting a dozen fish per session. Most are using spinner-baits and smaller running hardbodies, especially during the day, with surface plugs and fizzers dynamite around dusk and after dark.

This is great visual fishing but please do the right thing and release these bass, it’s only a small pocket of water and to my knowledge everyone fishing there is practising catch and release, great to see in my books.

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