Have whiting for dinner
  |  First Published: February 2016

The Christmas crowds are gone after another festive season but thankfully there’s still a huge amount of fish to catch. It really depends on what you want to target and where, but whatever you decide to do you won’t be disappointed.

The estuaries continue to fire for all species, with the Pambula system a standout. This stretch of water may not be huge, or very deep, but the variety of species on offer still amazes me. The place is loaded with solid tailor to 40cm and bigger with some chunky salmon mixed in too. Expect flathead to 60cm and legal sized snapper under the feeding tailor as they hammer the whitebait schools. Diving tern birds are a dead give away, and once you locate them, it’s mayhem – with triple hook-ups the norm. This action happens in the main lake itself and should continue as long as the bait stays there.

For anglers who like to throw softies, the lower sections toward the river mouth has been excellent for flathead, bream, whiting and flounder. Cast smaller presentations up to 70mm for results; natural colours have worked well. Fishos that anchor up on the draining tide in the same area have also fared well, especially on whiting. With the current, you may have to use a heavier sinker than normal but that won’t deter the fish from biting. The most effective baits have been worms and fresh prawn with a little berley to help things along.

Offshore sportfishers are licking their chops as the marlin bite hits full swing. The sluggish start to the season is now over, with switched on crews getting up to six bites a day – a pretty impressive tally in anyone’s books. The beaks are predominately stripes up to 100kg but there’s been the odd better black hooked also. Trolling skirted pushers seems to be the go-to method, though switch-baiting on bait balls should work if the conditions are right. The bite has mainly occurred wide off Merimbula with the 70-fathom line to the shelf the place to fish. The water temperature has bounced around 22°C, which is ideal. I’ve also heard of yellowfin tuna to 40kg+, and a handful of mahimahi caught while targeting the marlin. I’d expect this action to get even better as we head further into the season.
Closer to shore, the bread and butter species like flathead, morwong and snapper are keeping their end of the bargain up with anglers filling their eskies with ease. The flattie fishing for both sand and tiger has been impressive with the 30-35m line off Pambula a great place to start. Both Lennards island and Long Point have been the hotspots for snapper with fish to 3kg on the cards. Anglers using fresh squid and striped tuna strips have fared best, and drifting is the preferred method.

The rocks will continue to fish well for all the usual suspects. Anglers who cast lures can expect kingfish, tailor, salmon and the odd chance of a northern bluefin tuna. My advice is to fish Tura Head, as it is the deepest and most productive rock platform we have in the area. The bread and butter species like drummer and blackfish populate the spot, and you should still manage a few in the wash zones, however, persistence is the key, with plenty of berley. Use the freshest of baits like prawns, cabbage and cunjevoi for best results.

On the beaches, the evening flooding tide has seen some excellent captures of bream and whiting. I know of a few local fishos getting thirty fish a session. These guys use live beach worms and pipis for bait, with a lightly weighted outfit casting their presentation just past the shore dump. This is easy, simple fishing with great rewards if done correctly. The better beaches to try include North Tura, Tura Main and Haycock Beach to the south of Pambula.

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