Good water and good offshore fishing
  |  First Published: February 2017

Merimbula has come back to some sort of normality. Most visitors have left. For those venturing up now, you’re in for some seriously good fun on the fishing front.

Anglers offshore are having a field day, especially those after a feed. Flathead are around in awesome numbers. It’s the best I’ve seen it for a long time. Boats venturing out are getting their bags in pretty short time. The flatties seem to be everywhere and water depths of 35-45m are getting the bigger fish. There’s a good mixture of sand and tigers amongst them with the average fish around 45cm. That’s pretty good going for offshore so let’s hope it continues.

Those fishing the reefs are finding it a little tougher, as snapper have been somewhat quiet over recent weeks. I’m not sure why, but it will pick up again. In saying that, we’re still getting a few. The anglers I’ve talked to who are getting results are moving around a lot to locate the fish and mainly fishing the edges of the reef, not on the hard stuff. A key has been to use fresh bait with squid and tuna fillets.

Fishing a little lighter with tackle has also worked. Only use enough weight to get to the bottom and change your sinker weight with the conditions. This has been important for consistent results as well. Sometimes a few minor tackle adjustments is all that’s required to get the fish to play the game.

Further offshore, the water is around 22°C and that means one thing – marlin. These turbo-charged bruisers have been a little slow to start this season. With the good water finally here, it’s all systems go for the gamefishing fraternity. The beaks are wide with a 25-30km drive needed to get to the grounds. That’s pretty normal for down here.

Most fish seen and captured have been smaller stripes around 70-90kg. They’re still good fish and we should be seeing a few better blacks by now. I’m sure they will turn up, as there are good reports further north. It’s just a matter of time before they get here, we hope.

Trolling skirted pushers is still the best method right now. Cover the ground and find the fish, not the other way around. A bonus when trolling is the possibility of yellowfin tuna and mahimahi. There’s been a few caught with the best dollie I’ve heard of going 18kg – a solid model. I think these next six weeks are really going to fire up. Everything looks good. The bait’s there, the water’s there. All we need now is more fish.

In the estuaries it’s business as usual. Merimbula and Pambula continue to do the right thing with the majority of estuary dwellers playing the game. Flathead are about in good numbers with a few jumbos coming from the top lake in Merimbula. While guiding there the other day, we managed a cracking 88cm model with 35 odd flats caught for the day. The smallest fish went 42cm, so some solid action is to be had there.

The channels towards the front of the system are firing nicely to for bream, trevally, whiting, flathead and luderick. The draining tide is best with striped tuna cubes, nippers and worms all getting results. Lure anglers fishing lightly weighted stickbaits are also seeing the action. Casting light softies in the current can be a little tricky. Try to fish on a 45° angle to the current. Cast upstream and come across the channel, rather than straight down. You will present your offering to a lot more fish this way and certainly catch more.

The rocks and beaches are both fishing well, but you have to work for them. Anglers fishing the stones at Short Point have been getting quality drummer amongst the washes. Use fresh prawns or cunjevoi with a little berley. This should see some nice fish caught.

If you’re after the pelagics, Tura Head is the go. The northern end of the ledge in the deeper water has seen kings, bonito and big salmon captured. They have been a little hard to entice. If you can get live bait, you’re in with a shot. Casting whole ganged pilchards will work too, especially for the salmon and bonito.

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