Marlin to mullet on the chew
  |  First Published: February 2007

Summer is fading but the fishing isn’t. February and March are doubtless the best months to fish the South Coast – everything from marlin to mullet is in feeding mode and it’s definitely time for anglers to cash in.

Estuary fishing couldn’t be better with warm water through the systems producing good action. On the tidal flats, squirtworms or nippers will produce whiting, bream, blackfish and a host of other species on a rising tide. Small lures and flies will work too and if you haven’t got a boat the weather should be warm enough to wade as the tide recedes.

In the Bermagui River anywhere around any form of structure, whether it be at high or low tide, should fish well.

These areas give fish cover and a safety zone and may come in the form of weed beds, rock and oyster bars, drop-offs or bridge pylons and boat jetties.

Unlike on many TV fishing shows, you don’t have to throw baits and lures right into the structured areas. Try holding off from these places and bring the fish to you, where they can be fought out in clear water, reducing the chance of break-offs.

To do this consider using berley, it’s surprising how far fish, especially bream, will travel from their safety zone when enticed by a scent.

Other lakes and estuaries surrounding Bermagui that are closed to the ocean may require a different approach. In these systems fish have to travel regularly to feed and this is good news for those wishing to use lures or flies.

Use polarised sunglasses to sight fish in shallow areas to see what patterns they are forming. If fish are moving in a stop-start routine, pausing often, this generally means they are looking to feed and should be targeted.

When grouped and holding in snags (bream especially) they tend to be resting, although they still might be enticed by a well-placed lure.


Offshore game fishing is at its best with large numbers of marlin, tuna, sharks and mahi mahi patrolling the vast baitfish schools that come with the warm summer water. The edge of the continental shelf, the Twelve Mile, Six Mile and even in as close as the Four Mile reefs will all hold their share of baitfish and along with them will be the predators.

When tides, moon phases and current dictate where fish will be holding, every marlin season is different. A well-set lure pattern will undoubtedly produce not only marlin but other species as well.

If water temps are up, start trolling close to shore and work your way out to find where the fish are holding. Once they are found, work over the areas with baits or staying on the lures.

Sharks are best targeted with berley and for best results use plenty of tuna in it. Out over the shelf will be the better area with makos, blues, hammerheads and tigers all in the warm water.

Berleying the Twelve Mile will also produce sharks with the bonus of being able to fish the bottom, with most species being encountered of late. Montague Island has good numbers of kingfish surrounding it, along with most other reef dwellers. From there The Step, out from Tilba back towards Bermagui, has good numbers of sand flathead, red gurnard and the odd gummy shark there.

Closer again to shore, out from Camel Rock, plenty of small to mid-range sand flathead are caught.


South of Bermagui, the reefs through to Goalen Head and as far out as the Twelve Mile produce large amounts of quality bottom-dwellers. Snapper, mowies, tiger flathead, kings and a host of others are all to be encountered in surprisingly increasing numbers.

This may be due to the reduction of commercial fishing activities within the area due to the Government buy-back scheme. Bermagui no longer has a permanent longline fleet and is reduced to two trawlers and a few bait and dropline boats. This is good news for the recreational fishos.

Warm water pushing right into the shore allows beach and especially rock anglers a chance of some good pelagic action. The deeper rock platforms around Bermagui Headland, Mystery Bay to the north and Bunga to the south see a host of surface-feeding fish come within range of the land-based angler.

Those wishing to target kingfish, tunas, sharks, the occasional marlin and salmon and bonito use a variety of techniques. Lure fishing has gained popularity again with the introduction of large soft plastics. The old high-speed retrieves with large metal lures are not forgotten and produce a variety of speedsters.

Livebaiting is still the favoured way of producing large fish from the rocks and some of the baits used are pretty exciting, too. Salmon to 2kg often find themselves under a balloon with a hook in their back, as do frigate mackerel, slimies, tailor, bonito, yakkas and squid and when one of these gets eaten, you’d better hang on.

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