Calm seas, plenty of fish and mild weather is the order for the middle of Autumn. Just about all forms of fishing is at its prime and this is my favourite time of year to fish.
April usually means good sea conditions, allowing anglers to access a lot of off-shore fishing. In game fishing there is a crossover of different species, with yellowfin tuna, albacore and many smaller species starting to appear in good numbers to supplement the last of the Summer game fish.
Trolling or berleying will account for many tuna although while berleying you may attract sharks like makos, blues and tigers. When berleying, don’t be frightened to put a live bait out in the trail for marlin, so use heavier traces to handle them.
Conventional means of targeting marlin are also working well with plenty of fish on the Twelve Mile Reef and along the continental shelf.
Mahi mahi have been hanging around the fish traps and providing plenty of entertainment, while Montague Island has its share of kingfish of various sizes.
Good numbers of bonito are also there to keep anglers busy. While trolling deep-diving lures is a great way to catch bonito, for better results try trolling small live slimy mackerel hooked through the nose.
Options occur for sport and reef anglers in the calmer conditions. Ever increasing in popularity is the use of soft plastics offshore and bouncing these artificials around is producing interesting results out of Bermagui. Fishing in about 15 to 20 metres of water out from the headlands and bommies, working from the bottom to mid-water will effectively produce the best fishing, with kingfish, salmon, snapper and many other species falling to this technique.
For many reef anglers this time of year heralds the start of the snapper season. Drifting over the reefs (with Goalen Head the prime area) or anchoring has been producing good fish. Larger snapper are regularly encountered by berleying while at anchor in around 30 to 40 metres. Baits like pilchards, mackerel and tuna strips at varying depths will produce the better fish.
Other reef fish are also in good numbers with morwong, flathead, pigfish and perch coming from the deeper reefs. Sand flathead are plentiful off most beaches with those to the south the best.
Flat seas allow anglers easy access to rock platforms for the chance to try different techniques. Live-baiting for game fish is one option and with good deep water surrounding many of the rocky headlands, tuna, kingfish, sharks and marlin are all on the shortlist. Lure fishing for, salmon, tailor, bonito and the like is also very popular, while for the drummer and groper fishers things are also hotting up.
Most beaches are fishing well with good numbers of salmon, tailor, gummy sharks (on the moon) and the occasional jewfish. Bream and whiting are also around with beach worms, nippers and striped tuna accounting for most. Use fresh berley like tuna or mackerel to keep the bream schooling close to shore.
Most estuaries have excellent action as the fish feed to put on condition for the cooler months ahead. Luderick are being encountered on cabbage weed near the bridge and around the breakwalls.
Lots of yellowfin bream have moved into the estuary. Use nippers and striped tuna baits fished in a berley trail for best results. Live mullet and lures are taking their share of flathead and nippers over the flats on high tide will account for various different species.
The warmer water that pushes in from the ocean on the incoming tide seems to be stimulating these estuary fish into feeding more regularly.
Brogo Dam is starting to cool, making fishing more difficult, but live crickets have been very effective. Trolling lures around the weed beds that are starting to become exposed with falling water levels is also most effective. Humid conditions will still allow fly fishers good fun around the weed beds late of an evening.
This 46cm bream was taken in a berley trail in one of the estuaries near Bermagui.
A brace of hungry morwong which ate baits of octopus legs on an inshore reef.
One of the many mako sharks encountered in berley trails off Bermagui.Reads: 458