Follow the rising tide
  |  First Published: April 2016

As winter approaches, estuarine fish will look to condition and fatten for the cooler months ahead. This is a time for anglers to cash in on these feeding events here. Often it’s easy to catch lots of fish in a short period of time.

Wallaga Lake and the Bermagui River have many tidal flats, and are home to molluscs, crustaceans and other invertebrates. This is where fish like bream, whiting, luderick, flathead, mullet and even garfish like to feed. Fishing the rising tide with baits like nippers, squirt worms or fresh prawns can be very productive. For the lure fishers, soft plastics and surface lures may be a rewarding way to target these species.

A good hint in these areas is to walk the flats at low tide and look for evidence that fish have been feeding there. It may be as simple as the indent of a flathead or small craters left in the sand and even broken shells crushed by bream. Another way is just to polaroid over these flats, either from a boat or wading, and then cast to the fish you have sighted.


April has always been notorious for big blue marlin. They are usually here to feed on the migrating schools of tuna that are starting to move into the waters surrounding Bermagui, and this heralds the last chance of the season for anglers to capture a big billfish.

Generally most of the big blues have been found out over the Canyons, however when baitfish congregate in certain areas like the 12 Mile Reef, the predators will also converge on these spots, where feeding is easier. Anglers in pursuit of these large blues may spend many hours before encountering one, or may never will! However, in this period many striped marlin or sizeable tuna may keep anglers occupied with some interesting fishing.


It is also that time of year when the tuna arrive, and the action is increasing. This season is already shaping up to be good for tuna and may well be one of the best for many years. Striped and albacore tuna are in good numbers out over the shelf, with the occasional large yellowfin starting to show. Most fish at present are being taken on the troll with a variety of lures. Some may be enticed using berley, which will also attract sharks. Those seasoned anglers who fish Bermagui regularly know when tuna, are around makos are not far behind.


Not only is the gamefishing good, there are plenty of light sportfish around on the inshore grounds. Kingfish have been consistent around Montague Island this season, and catches are the best they have been for years along the coastline and inshore reefs. Sizes are on the smallish side although they still provide plenty of entertainment on light tackle.

Smaller tuna like stripes, bonito and frigate mackerel make up the bulk of the rest of the small sportfish. These fish are terrific fun on light spin gear, and can spend many an hour keeping anglers entertained.

Generally when one form of fishing is good so is another, and this is the case with bottom fishing. Flathead have never been in better numbers than now, with both tiger and sandies in plentiful supply. Closer to shore will provide mostly sandies, while further to sea in the deeper water will account for large tigers. Very wide around the 12 Mile Reef some of the tigers caught have been over 80cm, and there is always the added advantage of Tassie trumpeter, large nannygai, ocean perch or morwong. You should also keep your eye open for a gamefish or two.

Meanwhile back at the inshore reefs, snapper are increasing in numbers, and many anglers are taking advantage of them on bait or light tackle jigging with lures. The best areas are south out from Bunga or closer to home east of the Brothers.

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