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Montague still worth a look
  |  First Published: June 2016



I remember a long time ago reading a comic strip in a fishing magazine of a police officer pulling up a guy towing a boat for speeding. When questioned the fisher told the officer that there was a hot run of kings up at Montague Island – the response, ‘well I better give you an escort!’ Things haven’t changed, and Montague Island is still worth a look.

Up at Montague Island kingies and bonito are feeding on passing schools of sauries, alongside a few tuna. Troll live mackerel, or small bibbed and bibless lures to find some good models. Casting poppers on some heavy weight spin gear to get into some interesting and spectacular action. On the bottom around the island, snapper and morwong are the main captures, while back towards shore out from Tilba, sand flathead and the odd gummy shark are regular catches.

The close in reefs south of Bermagui have good stocks of snapper hanging around that can be targeted in various ways. Soft plastic lure fishing is a popular choice close to the shore, while anchoring and berleying is popular on the slightly deeper reefs. Leatherjacket are still a problem, so you might have to move around a bit to avoid them.

Game Fishing

Do you have a favourite species in a particular form of fishing? When it comes to game fishing, I love mako sharks – and now is the time to pursue them.

I suppose the attraction for me is the unpredictable behaviour of these sharks, whether they are on a line or in their feeding manner. As you berley for tuna you will often see the first indication of one around the boat when you catch a steely black eye looking up at you. Makos will take lures on the troll, live and dead baits in berley trails, or jigs intended for kingfish. Once hooked they may come rocketing out of the water in a series of spectacular somersaulting leaps, tear line off the best game reels in uncontrollable bursts, or just sulk all the way to the boat like someone with a bad toothache. What ever occurs they are a fantastic fish to target.

Both yellowfin and albacore tuna are around in good numbers, and the preferred way to target these species is to berley. Cubes of mackerel, and whole or half pilchards drifted back will account for most takes, while live bait may produce a better fish. Makos are a common by-catch while chasing tuna, so I recommend you have a shark bait in the water at all times.

Sadly, not everything goes to plan and you may have to revert to trolling for tuna. This may be a result of bad weather or a means to cover some water to find where the fish are. Once you locate a good concentration, try berleying to see if they will respond. The fish this season have been in as close as 20 fathoms and the Four-Mile and Six-Mile Reefs are holding fish. Run your lures out early and you may be surprised as to where you find the tuna. If nothing else, striped tuna may be there, which will give you fresh bait for a day of berleying – and there is nothing that makes life better than fresh striped tuna!

Reefs

The deeper Twelve-Mile Reef has seen some nice trumpeter captured, mixed in with morwong, snapper, ocean perch, and some huge jackets. You can also berley for tuna and sharks at the same time to cover more options.

From the shore, rock fishing is firing and some very nice drummer and groper have made the cut. The main rocky headland produces best and baits of cunjevoi, red crabs and cabbage weed have produced the goods. Early mornings and late evenings when the shadows creep over the water are best; also keep a spin stick handy for passing schools of salmon and bonito. These salmon frequent the beach and provide good angling on the high tides. There has also been lots of small mulloway this season. Expect to encounter gummy sharks, schools of bream and tailor at night.

Sadly, the estuaries are going quiet and most of the best fishing occurs around the entrances of most systems. Luderick are the mainstay with some excellent captures coming from the break walls around the bridge in the Bermagui River, while bream, trevally and the odd flathead have been taken in the warmer water of the rising tide.

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