Top-shelf yellowfin fun
  |  First Published: December 2007

Unlike the unseasonably cool water in late 2006, this December has already produced good game fish with some terrific captures already recorded.

Yellowfin tuna have comprised the bulk of the captures out around the continental shelf. Lure fishing covers more ground, so a spread of lures with a balanced mix of skirted, bibless or deep-diving lures will cover most aspects when trolling for tuna. Best of all, such a layout will provide a pattern that should indicate what lure the fish may prefer.

The best lure may often mimic the baitfish the tuna are feeding on or where they are feeding in the water column. Deep-diving lures often produce strikes from fish hesitant to come to the surface and a hooked fish can attract others in the school to the rest of the lure pattern.

Yes, there are marlin, too so those skirted lures are important. Marlin will also take the diving lures although the hook-up rate will not be as good as on skirts.

With marlin already around things are looking good for later in the season but for now concentrate around the edge of the shelf and further out.

The other good thing about a well-structured lure pattern is the variety of species that will be attracted to it. Recently there have been schools of albacore, striped tuna and the occasional mako shark all captured while trolling.

Makos often follow the schools of tuna and become a bonus when taken on a lure. If you know sharks are in the area and you wish to target them, then burley for best results.

If game fishing is not your scene, try for kingfish at Montague Island or reef fishing south of Bermagui.

The kingies have been good already this season with fish responding to jigs and bait. Sizes are mixed so you may need to sift through them to get fish of size. Remember the new size limit of 65cm this season as well as marine park restrictions, so check it all out first to avoid embarrassment.

Maybe as a result of less commercial pressure, the reef fishing has been excellent. Flathead are the mainstay with one of the best seasons in many years. Large tiger and sand flathead are being caught just about anywhere with the 50m mark due east of Bermagui providing close, easy access to these fish.

Around the other reefs there have been plenty of morwong with some late-season snapper, those pretty pigfish, the odd gummy shark plus those ever-present leatherjackets.

There have been lots of whitebait and small slimy mackerel around lately providing food for salmon and tailor around the rocks and beaches so any lure resembling them will work, as will bait which has the bonus of attracting some lovely bream and trevally patrolling the bait schools.

This is one of the best prawning seasons in years. Catching prawns is a fun family adventure with the rewards of a tasty meal which everyone loves, including the estuary fish. They are gorging themselves on them while the food is available.

Flathead, bream, whiting, jewfish and many more species will be encountered using bait and lures, with soft plastics providing very exciting fishing early in the mornings.

In Brogo Dam, hot days and balmy evenings are producing large insect hatches providing excellent fly and surface lure activity for bass anglers. Fish range to 45 cm but, as most seasoned bass anglers know, it doesn’t take a very large fish to get the heart racing.

Also try trolling through the day light hours, jigging small lures or bobbing shrimp. Don’t be frightened to try some of those fresh prawns as bait when bobbing, they work just fine.

More adventurous anglers could walk into the holes on the river below the dam wall, where there are plenty of bass which will need more effort to extract than in the dam.

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