Merimbula Lake a little gem
  |  First Published: December 2006

The Merimbula Lake system is quite small compared with other South Coast estuaries but don’t let this deter you, the fishing can be quite exceptional at times.

Flathead are the main species targeted here and with good reason. This system hosts a huge population of dusky flathead and going by the last few weeks’ captures, they want to play the game. Some big models up to 6.5kg have been caught by locals and visitors using a variety of different methods.

Soft plastics, live poddy mullet and deep-running hardbodies fished over the weed and sand flats have produced some amazing bags. Some anglers are bagging out within a couple of hours while most are taking only a few for a feed and letting go the remainder for other anglers to enjoy.

The fish are averaging 40cm to 45cm but if you fish bigger soft plastics you will get bigger fish. I have fished there quite a lot lately and have been getting a big girl nearly every trip but the trick is to use big shad-style lures. It can become a repetitive routine but stay at it and you will get that trophy fish, which you should then photograph and release.

The fish are quite widespread but I have been having better results fishing under the whitebait schools. At-times prolific tailor have been and smashing the bait and all the leftovers are like a huge mobile berley trail. When this happens, snapper, bream and mulloway are also a possibility.

This action will continue for months yet but remember to get out early when the holidays arrive because the increased boat traffic will slow down the bite.

The oyster racks are holding some bruiser bream which are proving hard to tempt in the clear water. This month the bream will respond well to surface lures as the water warms significantly.

Expect the whiting to show up also; a feed should be easy enough to get along the flats on the western side of the main road bridge near the Fisheries office. Use live bass yabbies or squirt worms on a running sinker rig for best results.


Anglers who target the pelagic species offshore should be licking their lips this month. The action has been good so far with tuna to 50kg, albacore in big numbers at times and a few bities also around.

The yellowfin are not concentrated and every day seem to be in a different spot. Most fish have come from the 70-fathom line and further out. Trolling a spread of different-sized pushers has worked well, with smaller lures working best.

There are some big fish there, too, as Shane from Bluewater Sports will attest. He told me of a monster that followed a teaser the other day; it jumped clear of the water at the back of the boat but decided not to eat. When Shane is stuck for words as how big it was, it must have been quite a remarkable fish.

With the water warming sharply as we head into December, striped marlin are a real chance also. Again, trolling lures early in the season is the preferred way to target them.

The inshore reef fishing is still going strong. Snapper are still in reasonable numbers although not as good as last month. Morwong have been prolific on some reefs with sand and tiger flathead really having a chew now the water is warming.

All reefs are holding fish but the usual haunts of Long reef, Horseshoe Reef and Lennards Island remain the pick. Use fresh squid if you can get it, it’s been working a treat.


The local beaches have been a little quiet for salmon and tailor but the bream and whiting fishing has picked up considerably. North Tura, Bournda and the northern end of Tathra Beach have been fishing well for the bread-and-butter species.

Light outfits with long traces and fresh bait are the keys to good bags. Pipis, fresh squid and live worms have accounted for most fish.

There should be the chance of mulloway and gummy sharks from some of the deeper holes along North Tura. Fishing these deeper sections into the night on a rising tide is a good starting point.

The guys throwing lures from the stones for pelagics should have some fun this month. Kingfish, striped tuna, bonito and frigates are real possibilities.

The headland at Tura and the point at Tathra would be your best places to tangle with one. Both these headlands jut out a fair way into the deeper, warmer water. Using livebait at these locations is also a gun way to catch kingfish but remember to use heavier gear as these guys fight like caged lions.

Short Point, to the north of Merimbula, is fishing OK for blackfish with cabbage used in conjunction with berley.

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