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Rock and troll success
  |  First Published: April 2016



What a cracking game fish season we are having around the Merimbula region! It’s all systems go as game crews get among the marlin action, which has been nothing short of sensational. In fact, I’d say the last two seasons are the best I’ve seen for over a decade. This red-hot action should continue for another month at least, as long as the bait stays there and the water conditions remains the same.

Most of the marlin are striped and in the 80-100kg bracket with the odd better black upwards of 120kg caught. The beaks have responded to a number of methods, with some crews trolling skirted pushers, and others slow trolling bridled slimy mackerel – a dynamite way to turn bites into landed fish. The only downfall with this method is that you don’t cover as much ground as you would trolling skirts. The upside is you can get multiple fish, especially if you find a surface bait-ball with several marlin around it. In any case, whatever method you use should get you results, it’s just a matter of what you want to do. With the shelf off Merimbula a fair hike away; a lot of anglers start fishing the 60-fathom area. It’s a great place to start, with slimy mackerel schools usually abundant around this depth. Work these schools to see a marlin or two, mahimahi and possible smaller yellowfin tuna encounters.

This month we should see a few bigger yellowfin turn up, especially later in the month. Every April we see the odd 60kg+ barrel caught, mainly by crews trolling skirts for marlin, let’s hope this season is the same.

Closer to shore the bait brigade have the knife at the ready with bottom dwelling flathead in great numbers. These fine eating fish are thick at present with the 30-35m line the place to catch the big models. The southern areas off Pambula seem to be the best with both sand and tigers playing the game. Those anglers after snapper have done alright, however the snapper have slowed a bit and you will have to move around a bit to get results. Try to concentrate your efforts around the edges of the hard rock where the gravel meets, as this seems to be the key to getting some solid reds for the pan. You can expect the odd gummy shark, kingfish and morwong to show up when chasing the reds – fresh squid are a standout bait.

In the estuaries the fishing did slow down after last month’s wet stuff – but things have really picked up now. The top lake in Merimbula is firing on all cylinders with flathead, legal snapper, bream, tailor and whiting all charging at times. The weed-fringed edges in 4-6m of water are the places to fish with smaller soft plastics up to 80mm. Those using blades around 3.5g have fared well too, especially on whiting. I know that sounds weird, whiting on bits of metal, but trust me, it works a treat. Try and fish in areas that have sand between weed patches. The top lake is full of areas like this, but you do need a good quality sounder and know how to read it to get the desired results. The lower sections of the channels have been excellent. Whiting, bream and trevally are chewing well, with bait anglers anchoring up on the draining tide proving success. Fresh prawns are the preferred bait.

Some decent kingfish has been smoking the rock hoppers who fish Tura Head. A few of the kings are 10kg models, which is nothing to sneeze at. You will require the right tackle to land one, and live bait, poppers and chromed lures have all worked on these beauties. A visiting angler got a cracking 16kg king off Merimbula wharf recently; local bream expert Slick Wright helped him to land the fish. According to Chris, it was an epic battle! The next six weeks should see the rocks really turn it on and I for one can’t wait.

On the beaches, both bream and whiting continue to do the right thing. Smaller presentations like beach worms and pipi fished on light outfits is the key to success. Better beaches to try include North Tura, Tura Main and Haycock to the south of Pambula.

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