Bega River comes alive
  |  First Published: November 2007

Six years since the closure to commercial fishing in the Bega River and how recreational anglers have benefited!

It used to be a rare occurrence which raised many an eyebrow when a flathead of over a metre was captured in the Bega River. It would make the papers and be talked about by the locals for weeks.

Nowadays, if you start bragging about your own big fish, it’s more than likely the response will be, ‘Yeah, I got one that big myself just last week’.

This is prime time for those big flatties in the river. Their main food has been the abundant prawns as a result of heavy Winter rains. It’s not only good if you’re a flathead, humans are also getting a fair share of these tasty crustaceans.

Early starts are a must for the most successful flattie sessions because the predators are lurking for that stray prawn that hasn’t yet burrowed into the sand and some of the strikes can be awesome.

Try getting up before daylight, grab your prawning gear and gather some fresh bait. Once you have your prawns, keep them alive by placing damp seaweed over them.

You can fish them from shore or a boat above the bridge with a simple running sinker rig with the prawn hooked once through the middle. The flatties respond well to this rig and so do the bream, trevally, jewies and many more of the estuary inhabitants.


Offshore anglers are seeing a great run of flatties, mainly tigers, with some very nice sand flathead as well. The tigers are prolific in more than 50m of water, especially off Bournda and east of Wapengo Lake entrance.

I suggest you go north for three reasons: You’ll be coming home with the north-easterly when it springs up, you’ll eliminate boat traffic out of Merimbula and you have the bonus of fishing the reefs out from Arragunnu and Nelsons Headland.

These reefs are holding plenty of morwong and a handful of snapper. Ocean perch, leatherjackets and wrasse will keep anglers occupied while waiting for the better fish.

On the full moon, fish a little closer to shore off any of the beaches and you can target gummy sharks with sand flathead to top up bags.

Those gummies can also be targeted from the beach. Night is best, using fresh squid or fish strips. Find a good gutter and put in the time. Using those baits, you may also catch small whaler sharks with an occasional jewie to boot.

Of course you should expect plenty of salmon at this time of year. We are seeing some extra large fish captured with some reaching double figures in the old scale. There are just as many being captured from the rocks or from Tathra Wharf by those casting lures.

Speaking of the wharf, no visit to Tathra is complete without checking it out. There you will find silver trevally on the chew, as are the yellow tail and early season slimy mackerel.

Nights can be special with schools of tailor lurking in the shadows. They eagerly take mackerel strips, providing a nice way to round off the day.

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