Bread and butter species still on the cards
  |  First Published: March 2016

The beaches around the Merimbula region have been red-hot of late and anglers who have targeted the bread and butter species have done particularly well. Bream and whiting have made up the majority of bags, with whiting in exceptional numbers.

These speedsters average 35-36cm, but bigger fish are available. At that size they are great opponents of light beach outfits, and a great feed to be had. Fishing the correct tides is paramount for consistent results, with late afternoon rising tides proving to be the best. Combine tide timing with the use of the freshest of baits such as beach worms, pipi and fresh tuna cubes (especially for bream) and watch your catch rates soar. Concentrate your efforts around the rocky corners; the better beaches are North Tura, Merimbula main and the entrance to the Pambula River. Salmon and tailor will also be available, although their numbers have been down a little of late. Anglers who target the big fry should also do well with gummy sharks and mulloway on the cards. Use large fresh baits like tailor fillets, squid and bunches of live beach worms after dark along the deeper gutters for your best chance to tangle with one.

Out wider the water temperature is a warm 24°C and that means marlin. It’s been a cracking season so far with most crews getting among them. I know local charter skipper Nathan Brown from Headhunter Charters had a cracking day recently going 11-10-10 on striped marlin, that’s incredible fishing in anyone’s books, and the lucky clients had a day to remember. I’d expect this red-hot action to continue as long as the water stays here with the bait.

The odd better black marlin to 150kg has also been hooked. These bigger fish can be a little harder to stay connected to, but let’s hope the lucky crews that do hook-up get the desired results. On a smaller scale, yellowfin tuna have been caught though the sizes of the fish have been quite small. Most tuna average 15-25kg and are fun on the right tackle. Expect the bigger models to turn up in April, though every summer sees a horse caught so be ready for the unexpected.

Trolling skirted lures is the go at this time of year, as you cover a lot of ground. Be aware of temperature breaks, tide lines, bait holding down deep and bird activity. If you come across a bait ball it’s possible to pitch live baits at marlin –once the bait is located though, you do require an organized crew to reap the benefits of this technique. Most action will happen from the 70-fathom line to the shelf but don’t underestimate the shallower water, especially for black marlin.

Anglers who fish the estuaries are having a field day. Merimbula Lake continues to amaze me; the place is the size of a big puddle but always produces. Dusky flathead to 95cm, bream, whiting, legal snapper, tailor and blackfish have all been caught, and most methods are successful. Fresh bait like nippers, worms and tuna have worked a treat on the bream – anglers anchor up in the bottom lake channel and enjoy good success. The soft plastic brigade has also had great results with plastics up to 80mm doing most of the damage. The top lake is the place to fish with plastics, concentrate on shallower edges on the run-out tide for best results.

Those anglers who fish the stones for pelagic species have also had some fun. Use whole ganged pilchards cast out and slowly wound in to guarantee a kingfish, bonito or maybe some bigger than average salmon to 2.5kg. Throwing chromed sliced metals up to 40g has also payed dividends, with most headlands seeing good results. The better ones to fish are Tura Head, Merimbula wharf, Short and Long Points. Tura Head is the pick of them all, but it’s a decent walk in from Headland Drive to the rock platform below. Expect this action to continue for a few months yet with the tuna species possible if the currents do the right thing. For anglers who target bread and butter species like blackfish and drummer, Short Point is certainly the place to fish. Expect a few bream too especially if berley is used.

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