Island yellowfin welcome
  |  First Published: December 2007

I reckon it had been 10 years at least since I’d heard of a decent yellowfin tuna caught at Montague Island and, to be honest, I didn’t really think it would happen again. Thankfully it has, with a smattering of 40kg fish caught over the previous few weeks.

It’s great to see these turbocharged bruisers at the island again, it reminds me of the early 1990s when the tuna run was on – everyone downed tools and every local game fanatic jostled for prime positions at the northern end of the island.

It wasn’t quite like that this time but for those did venture out were well-rewarded. I know of at least a dozen fish between 31kg and 45kg landed, with a few bigger models winning their freedom.

All fish were taken on the troll, with a mixture of skirted and bibbed lures doing the damage. Most were captured at the northern and western sides of the island.

With the water hovering around 20° there’s no reason why we can’t have a repeat tuna performance this month if the water remains good and the bait is there.

The local kingfish population has come out of hibernation with fish to 7kg regular captures on live bait and jigs. The fish are quite widespread but the northern end has fished particularly well on jigs. Using bait at the northern end is no longer allowed under the marine park rules so check with local authorities about seasonal closures and areas to fish.

On the reefs, snapper numbers have been good although the fish are averaging only around a kilo. Most reefs are holding fish with Brou, Potato Point and the deeper sections off Tuross producing.

Expect morwong, pigfish and smaller kingfish when targeting the reds. If you’re after a feed of sand or tiger flathead you shouldn’t have any worries in 30m to 35m off Kianga or Dalmeny headlands. Striped tuna, mackerel fillets and squid are the best baits.


The local estuaries have been consistent without being red-hot but that will change this month. Big flathead and mulloway have made Wagonga Inlet home but not in real numbers.

I know of five jewfish caught over the previous few weeks with the average size around 5kg. Most of these fish have been caught by anglers fishing for flathead with soft plastics – not a bad by-catch. If targeting the jewies, fish around whitebait or tailor schools with bigger soft plastics or live bait; you will lose baits and lures to the choppers but persistence will pay.

Anglers targeting flathead are doing OK but the bigger fish have been sporadic. School fish to 50cm are plentiful over the shallower channel margins with lightly weighted nippers and whitebait working. Soft plastics up to 80mm will also work, especially on the outgoing tide.

Fishos targeting bream on hardware have been doing OK and this month the fish should respond well to surface poppers or the various lures that make a walk-the-dog-presentation.

Remember, you get a hit on the surface don’t strike, wait for the weight to load up the rod and then set the hook.

On the beaches the salmon have made a welcome return after being relatively quiet. Some fish have been 5kg, quite big for this time of year. A lot of salmon are being caught on chrome slice lures up to 40g and some locals have encountered up to 20 fish a session.

Anglers using bait have been getting good results, too. A paternoster rig is perfect; have bait like pilchards or bluebait on the bottom hook and a popper or soft plastic on the top hook. You will be pleasantly surprised at the number of fish caught on the artificial.

Anyone after a feed of bream or whiting shouldn’t have too many worries this month. The water in close will be quite warm, which whiting love. Use fresh bait like pipis or beachworms on a light running-sinker outfit and some tasty fillets will be in the pan before long. Better beaches to try include Brou, Kianga, Blackfellows and Tilba Beach, down south.

The rock fishing brigade should be happy as the warmer currents come closer to shore. Pelagics like kingfish, striped tuna, frigate mackerel, bonito, salmon and tailor will all be catchable.

A lot will depend on bait activity and currents but the usual haunts at Mystery Bay’s high rock is a good place to start. Throwing chrome slugs or shiners does it for me, it’s active fishing and when the big hook-up does come, it’s certainly an adrenalin rush.

Casting whole ganged pilchards past the wash zone and slowly winding them in will also catch fish.

If you’re after a big king or possibly a tuna, you can’t go past a live slimy mackerel drifted out under a balloon or bobby cork. Bait can be caught at most rock spots, a little berley and a light outfit with a bait jig should do the trick.

Blackfish, drummer and bream will be at home around most washes close to the rocks and fresh cunjevoi or cabbage would be the pick of the baits.

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