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Offshore is going off!
  |  First Published: May 2016



After a busy Easter period around Merimbula, some sort of normality has returned as the visiting fishos head home. I expect quite a few will have beaming smiles on their faces as the fishing has been excellent over recent weeks, a trend which will continue.

Offshore anglers have been fortunate and the bottom-bouncing brigade are licking their chops. Deciding on what you want to target will determine what bags you get, but a lot of crews have drifted the reefs and caught a variety of quality fish. Snapper are one species high on anglers’ lists and these delicious fish haven’t disappointed. The majority of reds are averaging a kilo or slightly better – not big fish, but what they lack in size is certainly made up for in numbers. I know a few crews have been getting 20+ fish a session, which is solid fishing, and if you throw in morwong, pigfish and the odd gummy shark you’re in for a feast.

There’s been the odd kingfish about also, especially off Haycock Point to the south of Pambula. These turbo charged bruisers are quality fish with the odd king nudging 12-14kg. Most have fallen to trolled big divers, although livebait and bigger soft plastics should work, especially if you see them on top chasing bait – which has been the case lately. If the bigger pelagic fish are not for you, then a good feed of flathead will be easy to find. I’d be looking in the 35-40m mark straight off Pambula Beach; it’s been excellent there and should continue to be great.

Further offshore the marlin action has slowed up but certainly isn’t over with crews still getting a few shots a day. It’s definitely not what it was like last month but that’s to be expected with the water cooling down further. The good news is it’s May and that means yellowfin tuna. The end of autumn is prime time to target these speedsters, and there’s already been a few caught by marlin anglers while trolling skirts, so all looks promising over the coming weeks. We should see albacore in numbers, plus the odd mako shark mixed in with the tuna, so let’s hope the fish gods do the right thing for all.

The estuaries have fished very well. Both Merimbula and Pambula continue to fire with most estuarine species playing the game. We had a morning session in the top part of Merimbula Lake with my daughter and her cousins the other day, casting smaller softies and blades. We caught 25 legal fish which included bream, flathead, trevally, flounder and snapper. The kids were stoked as the smaller snapper to 30cm keep them amused between the bigger fish. This is a great way to get kids into fishin. It’s easy, clean and a whole stack of fun for them and you too. For those after bigger flathead there’s a few big girls getting around. We managed a 93cm breeder there a week ago with another croc lost so they are there and active. We have found smaller presentations around 70mm have acheived the results, not bigger presentations, as you would think. Try concentrating around the ribbon weed margins in 4-5m for best results.

On the beaches salmon numbers are on the increase as the water cools down close in. This month should see some solid greenback tailor make their presence felt as May is the month these toothy critters make an appearance along our coastline. You will need to use wire for the choppers, as even 40lb leaders won’t survive a fight with their denture sizes.

The usual paternoster rig will work, though a single dropper rig with a wire trace might be a better option with whole ganged 4/0 pilchards as the bait of choice.

If you’re after a feed, expect bream numbers to be good. I know a few locals are doing well on Tura Main, there’s a solid little gutter to the northern end which is fishing particularly well.

Off the headlands, Tura Head is definitely the pick with bonito, kingfish, tailor and salmon all succumbing to a variety of methods. Casting mid-sized chromes works a treat as do whole pilchards rigged on a lightly weighted ganged hooks. This technique can be deadly, especially when there’s more turbulence and white water closer to the rock faces.

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