Race season or fishing season
  |  First Published: November 2016

The spring racing carnival in Victoria hosting the Melbourne Cup is not to everyone’s liking, so what do anglers do when they don’t want to go to the races? Well, they go to Bermagui for the start of the game fishing season. With holidays on offer Victorians have ventured to Bermagui Melbourne Cup weekend for many decades now, so what can they expect to catch?

Already there is plenty on offer in small to medium tuna – albacore, yellowfin, striped and the occasional big-eye tuna. Most of these are being taken on the troll with diving, swimming lures providing most success. Using these in conjunction with skirted lures will often see the divers taken first, resulting in other fish from the school then reacting to the skirts.

The areas to target are from the Six Mile Reef and beyond, with most fish coming from out over the Continental Shelf through to the Canyons. It helps if you can work with other boats, as often one may find a school of fish and other boats coming into the area will help keep the fish up on the chew. With water temperatures now on the increase, don’t be surprised to see the odd marlin starting to show. When rigging lures, make sure your hardware is sufficient to handle an early season beaky.

I’ve always stated that where there is tuna there are sharks, hammerheads, whalers and especially makos. The makos are out there in numbers and a well-laid berley trail of tuna should attract one to your vessel. Do this where the tuna are concentrating for the best results. The Twelve Mile Reef may be considered, and gives you the option of some reef fishing while you wait for the big one to come along.

Fishing on the Twelve Mile you can expect most of your common reef fish to be encountered with recent good captures of morwong, snapper, ocean perch and some lovely Tassie trumpeter. This is also the time of year for big tiger flathead and you won’t get them bigger than on the edge of the Twelve Mile Reef. It may be hard fishing out there, but the results are worth it.

Thankfully those tigers don’t reside just around the Twelve Mile, these fish can be found in closer around the many reefs that surround Bermagui, in as close as 30m water depth. Most medium sized fish will be taken from water depths of around 50m close to the reefs where you can still encounter those other reef fish. Closer to shore, sand flatties will prevail out from most beaches and provide tasty bags for anglers, with the added bonus of a gummy shark thrown in for good measure.

There’s plenty to be had on shore with the estuaries in full swing. This is the result of good rains last season that left our lakes and rivers open to the ocean. Fish stocks have increased, as have the prawns. Not only are the fish feasting on these succulent crustaceans, so are humans! There’s plenty to be found in the lakes surrounding Bermagui.

The entrance to Wallaga Lake is very wide at present, where nice mulloway have entered giving anglers chasing flathead with lures a pleasant surprise. Both Wallaga and the Bermagui River have good stocks of luderick at present, which are hanging around both bridges, along the rock walls and around the sea grass beds over the flats in the upper reaches of the systems.

There’s plenty of the other estuary species to be found as well around the entrances or adjacent beaches and rocks. Salmon are prolific with some nice tailor mixing in. We should also see other small pelagics travelling the coast in the form of bonito, kingfish or frigate mackerel, which are in good numbers up at Montague Island.

Brogo Dam is in full swing – the ongoing stocking program of the Far South Coast Bass Stocking Association provide excellent angling within the dam. Sizes are mixed with the average around 30cm and the odd thumper over 40cm. There are also lovely fish in the river below the dam, but there is now a no fish zone for the immediate 300m below the wall.


Hammerheads are one shark you may encounter out from Bermagui.


Berleying the shallows often offers surprises like this ray sniffing the berley bucket.


When striped tuna start to show you can be sure big fish will follow.

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