Bermi at its best
  |  First Published: February 2017

It’s that time of year where the billfish action is at its hottest, with Bermagui Harbour abuzz with anglers in boats of all shapes and sizes only too eager to go chase these majestic fish.

Whether you fish from a tinny or a luxurious game boat, when someone yells “marlin”, all sorts of human emotions take over. Some people will freeze, unsure of what to do, while others will run around the boat in a mad panic. Or for those who have seen it all before, they will take in the sight and enjoy the beauty of the fish they pursue.

February is one of the best months for marlin in the waters that surround Bermagui, with warm currents and plenty of bait all relatively close to port. The Twelve Mile Reef is producing the best, with striped and black marlin predating on schools of slimy mackerel and striped tuna, while close by over the Continental Shelf, you will also find these same species with the added chance of a monster blue marlin.

Lures are the best way to pursue marlin; you can cover more water to find where the fish are concentrated. Once you have done so, live baiting or switch baiting may be a preferred method, especially switch baiting. This is where the thrill of the chase comes in by reading signs like birds whirling overhead, nervous bait scattering on the surface or seals, and even marlin, busting up on a helpless bait school. It’s all adrenalin rushing stuff.

There are a few tuna, mostly stripies, that also provide a good trolled live bait for a marlin. Unfortunately, it’s not only the marlin that like these, there’s also a good chance a hammerhead shark may want it too.

Kingfish have been plentiful up at Montague Island, taking jigs and live baits regularly. Most fish have been just on size with an occasional larger fish showing amongst them.

There’s been plenty of action for those who like to reef or bottom fish, with this being one of the best seasons for flathead in a long time. Most of these fish have been tigers in deep water around 40m and deeper, while closer to shore sufficient numbers of sandies will grace anglers’ bags. Gummy sharks have also been a welcome by-catch amongst the flathead, providing a different flavour for the table.

There are plenty of morwong, both blue and jackass, up over the reefs with just enough snapper to keep the interest up. Throw in some ocean perch, the odd pigfish plus others, and it is well worth a visit.

It’s action aplenty for both the rocks and beaches, with schools of passing pelagics, mostly in the form of salmon, small tuna or kingfish. Lure fishing from the stones is producing well, especially around sunrise. At this time of day you don’t have to catch fish to appreciate the beauty surrounding Bermagui, but it does help.

Along the beaches it will mainly be salmon or tailor snapping at lures, and while bait fishers will also come across these fish, they can also expect plenty of bream, whiting or mullet. At night around a full moon, mulloway have been showing more regularly, along with sharks in the form of whalers and gummies.

It has definitely been a great season for bream in the estuaries, particularly those that remained open to the ocean. Fresh stocks have moved into the systems, providing great fishing throughout the estuaries. Not to be outdone, most of the other species are there too, providing plenty of great action.

Whether you are a bait or a lure angler, I feel the best action is yet to come next month!

Reads: 2018

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