Firing up for the season
  |  First Published: November 2006

November can be apretty hit-and-miss affair as far as gamefishing goes but when you strike it, it can be damn good.

Yellowfin tuna and albacore are congregating on the edge of the continental shelf and beyond. Mixed in are schools of striped tuna which can be a problem while targeting larger species.

Trolling is the preferred method with bibless and skirted lures combined for the best results. I like to see a bibless shoved way out the back and forgotten about; this often catches the larger, shy fish that won’t come into a pattern.

Another species that’s early this season is the striped marlin. These fish are following schools of striped tuna and slimy mackerel and although it’s a little early to target on live bait, most fish are coming in on lures.

Not all game fish have been caught on lures, some tuna have been caught in berley trails and of course there have been some very nice makos.

Closer to shore, kingfish are in reasonable numbers at Montague Island as well as some nice bonito. Jigging is working best on the kings, while trolling will produce bonitos around the western side of the island.

This is a great time of year for reef and bottom fishing. With the prevailing nor’-east winds you need an early start because most of the fishing is completed by mid-morning.

These winds provide good drifts along the edges of the reefs. Most of our reefs run north-south so pick up the edge of the reef on the sounder, position yourself just out from there and start your drift. If conditions are right you will go from one reef to another, picking up nice tiger flathead in between, while snapper and morwong will dominate on the reefs themselves.

Generally the deeper the reefs the better the fish and the Twelve Mile has some exceptional fish at present.


In the estuaries, it seems no matter where you fish you are going to catch fish. The warm water gives anglers the choice of which method to target estuary fish and with all the rages of soft plastic lures you will not get a better time to produce fish in this manner.

In the Bermagui River target fish over the flats and upper reaches while the tide is high, working over any form of structure no matter how insignificant.

As the tide falls, target the drop-offs, weed beds and deeper holes. A good rule of thumb is to follow the murky water which holds the nutrients and warmth.

If you find lures aren’t working that well, a switch to live nippers and small mullet might start the ball rolling.

Blackfish are prolific along the rock walls and bridge pylons. Green and cabbage weed are being used in the traditional way with anglers catching their bag without much effort. Fish the last of the run-out and first of the run-in tides.

Out at Wallaga Lake, packs of tailor are patrolling the edges of schooling mullet, providing some exciting fishing. Surface poppers are working well, as are some large hard-body minnow patterns. Underneath the tailor, some large flathead are also being encountered.

Large whiting are in good numbers along the coastal beaches and are being taken on worms in reasonable numbers. Cuttagee, Barragoot and Wallaga Lake beaches seeming the better spots. Mixed in are some nice bream, mullet, tailor and heaps of salmon.

With the warmer evenings anglers are venturing out at night beach fishing and are encountering some very nice gummy sharks and the odd jewie, particularly around the full moon.


If you get only one chance to fish in November, make it at Brogo Dam, it’s going off. Good water levels and very warm temps are spurring the bass into action.

Insect activity is providing some excellent fly and surface fishing towards dusk and in the early morning. Work deep-diving lures, plastics and spinnerbaits through the day, troll to keep lures in the strike zone or sit back and soak a worm and admire the beauty of Brogo.

Down stream from the dam along the river is also fishing extremely well. Walking the bank will gain access to some nice holes but the going can be tough. Canoes may be one option and if you started at the dam wall working down stream, you’ll eventually get back to the bridge crossing on the Princes Highway. By the way, anyone interested in stocking Australian bass into farm dams or other private waters can call me on 02 6493 4857 and I will be able to put you in contact with a local fish breeder.


James Caves with a lovely surface-caught Brogo Bass


One of the many whiting frequenting the lakes and estuaries this Spring


Early-season striped marlin are best targeted with skirted lures.

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