Get ready to rumble with a big mulloway
  |  First Published: April 2016

The offshore scene continues to fire for game fishers, with marlin, marlin, and more marlin on everyone’s agendas. It’s been a cracking month, with almost all crews getting fish. If the bait and water conditions remain the same, I can’t see this changing any time soon. You know it’s red-hot when switched on game crews, recreational and charter boat operators are getting five or six shots a day.

It’s great to hear radio skegs of 7-6-6 (raised, hooked and landed) and sometimes more a day. This happens on a daily basis, not on every boat but the beaks are there and in numbers. The key to good results is to find the bait, mainly slimy mackerel and concentrate your efforts around it. If you’re lucky enough to find a surface baitball, then it’s possible to catch multiple fish from the one school. Some crews are seeing 4 and 5 marlin captures on these bait-balls at any one time, which keeps the adrenalin pimping!

The beaks can be found almost anywhere, from the 70-fathom line to the shelf, but quite a few crews are working the traps in 60-70 fathoms off Tuross. These lobster traps are a holding station for bait, and are a great place to start your day. Most of the beaks are stripes in the 70-100kg bracket, though there has been a few solid black marlin encountered as well. My good friend Paul O’Brien has been trying to get a marlin for years, his wish came true last week when he broke his duck with 3 marlin in one day, his best a black of 110kg. It’s awesome to see hard working anglers persist with their dreams and get a great result. Well done to Benny Bolton from Charterfish Narooma for getting him among them.

If marlin isn’t for you, then there are good numbers of mahimahi to be caught, and a few bulls upwards of 22kg have been captured. I know Dasher from Compleat Angler in town got a thumping bull this week. It was a beast of a fish that had him still smiling a week later. I expect to see a few more tuna turn up in April, especially yellowfin. There have been sporadic captures of fish to 20-25kg, though not in any numbers, but this may change over the coming weeks. We usually see the odd barrel between 60-80kg in mid-autumn, mainly caught by the trolling brigade so keep an ear out on the radio for any reports.

At Montague Island the kings have disappointed anglers to say the least. They’re certainly not thick at present, but if you persist you will get fish – you just have to work for them. The kings that have been caught average 70-75cm with the odd better fish to 90cm. Anglers who fish live baits have fared best, with crews slow trolling live slimy mackerel achieving the bigger fish. This is a dynamite way to get fish, especially early in the morning – but expect the seals to cause you grief at sometime or another. Concentrate your efforts around the western side of the Island, the Fowl-house Reef is a good place to start.

In the estuaries it is all systems go after the floods with just about everything chewing at some time. Wagonga Inlet’s flathead population has come out of hibernation with some cracking fish caught lately. I know of several 90cm+ fish caught recently, mainly by anglers using larger soft plastics fished slow in the deeper sections of the main basin. These are serious crocs!

Up at Tuross, the recent flush has spurred on some fantastic fish, and mulloway, flathead, bream and whiting are all playing the game. The entrance is deep with tidal movement of 60cm and more throughout the system, which is great to see. The fish love it too, and salmon and tailor have entered the system in numbers to harass whitebait schools. These pelagic species have been caught as far up as the road bridge, which is about 5km, so the water must be good. Most anglers are concentrating their efforts in the lower sections from 4-ways to the entrance. This area has fired for mulloway and flathead. I know of several crocs to 97cm and mulloway to 75cm caught on a regular basis, so the fishing is pretty good. Both bait and lure anglers have achieved great results. Fresh squid has done the damage on mulloway.

On the beaches, it’s business as usual with bread and butter species like bream and whiting to keep anglers happy. These fine eating fish have been thick at times, with anglers bagging out in a few short hours, especially on whiting. Most beaches hold fish with Brou Beach a standout. This beach is around 7km long and runs from Dalmeny up to Potato Point, and the fish can be anywhere. Look for slightly deeper channels just past the shore dump, which this beach has plenty of. For bait, use either live beach worms or pipi but remember to fish as light as possible to get the best results. Don’t use any berley either as the stingrays and banjo sharks will drive you nuts.

On the stones, the pelagic species are in full swing, and bonito, kingfish, salmon and tailor are all possible targets. Use a variety of shiners to 50g plus whole pilchards on ganged hooks. The golf course rocks, Dalmeny headland or Mystery Bays High Rock to the south of Narooma are the pick of the places to fish.

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