Make the trip out for tuna time
  |  First Published: July 2017

It’s tuna time along the far South Coast of NSW with anglers fishing offshore from Merimbula getting amongst them. Recently we have seen favourable weather with flat seas making the journey to the tuna grounds that much more comfortable!

Most crews heading wide have had success, with southern bluefin tuna up to 80kg being taken. There have been yellowfin tuna to 40kg and bigger fish lost. A handful of solid albacore have been making up the remainder of the bag. The talk is not only about the size, but the sheer quantity of SBT that are being seen and caught. The average fish seems to be around 50kg, but some boats are getting upwards of 10 fish per day, which is quality angling in anyone’s books.

Most of these fish are being tagged and released or simply cut off beside the boat. Only a few are kept for eating purposes. The fish are responding to almost all methods with a lot of crews trolling first then reverting to a cube trail once they are hooked up. This is a great method that works particularly well, though you do need an organised crew to get the best out of it.

If the weather stays good and the water doesn’t turn over, this action could continue for a few months yet. Let’s hope so. Closer inshore the snapper are in full swing with Long Point, White Cliffs and Horseshoe reefs all holding fish at times. The average size is a kilo – a good eating size. There are plenty of them and there is the odd model to 4kg being caught too.

Anglers drifting have done well with fresh squid, cuttlefish and tuna strips. Mixed in with the reds are morwong and the odd kingfish. Those trolling close to the rocks are catching plenty of bonito and big salmon. These are good fun on lighter outfits and with the flat seas a few locals in small boats are having a ball. It’s well worth the effort.

In the estuaries July can be the quietest month of the year with the water a chilly 14-16°C. Those that are having a go are getting good trevally and salmon in the top lake with the channels below the main wharf in town producing some nice fish too.

Anglers using smaller soft plastics are faring best and the flooding tide is definitely better. There should be a few luderick and bream fanging for those targeting them with fresh weed and tuna cubes. Use a little berley for both these species and you shouldn’t have too many worries getting a feed. The channels are the place to fish.

On the beaches salmon are everywhere and any beach with a half decent gutter is producing. All methods are working; paternoster rigs with bait/popper combination, casting chromed slices and even soft plastics on larger jigheads have been effective. If you’re after a bit more sport, try using a bream outfit with 4-6lb gelspun and a 20g shiner. You can cast these things a mile.

You lose a lot of fish with the trebles, so try changing them to a single hook. You will certainly get a better hook-up to landed ratio with this method. Mixed in with the sambos are some reasonable tailor to 1kg. Smoke these up and they are great on the plate. The better beaches include Tura Main and North Tura. Both these beaches have great gutters that are deep.

Winter off the rocks fishes very well with blackfish, drummer, groper and bream all possible targets. There’s the chance of good snapper especially after a blow, and they will come in close after a feed with Tura Head the ideal place to fish. This platform is deep and many a good snapper has come from here.

If after the pelagic species, salmon, tailor and bonito are all catchable with whole pilchards on ganged hooks a great way to target them. With the bread and butter species cunjevoi, cut crab, cabbage and fresh prawns should suffice with Short Point and the rocks on the northern side of Merimbula bay well worth a look.

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