Any method madness on hungry pelagics
  |  First Published: December 2016

With summer well and truly here and water temperatures hovering around 23°C, it’s no wonder the locals are having a ball on the pelagic action offshore from Merimbula. They won’t have it all to themselves for much longer, as the holiday brigade settles in.

The last few weeks have seen yellowfin tuna and albacore caught with a few fish nudging 30kg. Now I know that’s not big, but it’s great to see early in the season. The next few weeks will see striped marlin and a host of shark species available at times, with a few black marlin thrown in just to make things interesting.

All methods will work – trolling lures and live bait, or switch baiting. Berley and cubes have caught a few tuna. I’d be concentrating from the 70-fathom line outwards, as this is where the most bait has been present.

On the inshore reefs, the action has been steady with snapper, morwong, kingfish and striped tuna keeping most boaties happy. The flatties have been quiet, but this will change this month as the water warms. The area off the Pambula River mouth should produce results.

Some decent reds have been encountered in the deeper water off Lennards Island (30-40 fathoms) with kingfish to 7kg at both Long Point and Horseshoe Reef. All this action will continue over January. If one reef isn’t firing, move to another until you find the fish. Don’t let them find you, as you may be waiting a while. Better baits to use are fresh squid, striped tuna fillets, pilchards and live bait particularly for the kingfish.

The beaches will continue to produce the goods over the coming weeks. Bream, whiting, tailor, salmon, mullet and the odd mulloway will all hit baits with gusto. Best baits for the bread and butter species are live beach worms, prawns, pipis and striped tuna cubes. Both pilchards and blue bait will suffice for the pelagic species.

The mulloway will be a lot harder to target than the other beach species, but if enough time and patience is put in, the rewards will happen. I like using fresh squid, tailor fillets and big bunches of live beach worms for the mulloway. Fishing for these bronzed brutes isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I can guarantee that if you hook one, you’ll be hooked forever. Better beaches to try include Tura and North Tura, though any beach with a decent gutter is worth a look.

Anglers fishing the stones are in for a treat as the pelagic action is in full swing! Kingfish, big salmon, bonito and striped tuna have been caught from Tura Head. It’s a decent walk in, but worth it.

Both lures and bait have produced, but I’d be sticking to the chromies. Casting these bits of metal to the horizon isn’t for everyone, but when it works, it doesn’t get much better. There have been solid kings hooked from this ledge of late, so I’d be upping the ante on gear selection with 10kg as an absolute minimum. Then you’ll have a chance of landing one.

In the estuaries, it’s all systems go. All species are chewing at times. The Merimbula top lake has been exceptional, with flathead the best I’ve seen them for a very long time. It’s possible to get 20-30 fish per session there. Soft plastics and bigger blades are doing the trick.

We guided there recently, targeting croc sized flatties and managed a solid model at 89cm, with quite a few around that 60cm mark. You will also get plenty of 40-50cm fish for the pan, with some decent pinkie snapper to 1kg also hitting lures with gusto.

The same can be said for Pambula – you can expect bream, flathead, whiting, flounder and trevally with both bait and lure anglers catching plenty. The main basin has been the place to fish with the oyster racks great for the bream.

With the warmer water, surface fishing has improved dramatically. This will only get better as we head further into summer. You can expect whiting and the odd decent flathead when fishing like this.

The river itself is holding some nice fish, but the water is marked with that dreadful red algae that we seem to get every summer. It makes fishing difficult, but if you can put up with it, you’ll be rewarded for sure.

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