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The wharf: it’s fish lotto
  |  First Published: December 2006



Growing up in nearby Bega, I regularly visited Tathra Wharf. Very little has changed there since then and yet another generation of kids is now gearing up for a Christmas onslaught.

The beauty of Tathra Wharf is not knowing what will turn up and when and every season is different. As with most venues, this spot is governed by currents and tides. At this time of year warmish 20° water can herald the start of a host of different species.

Mackerel, both slimies and frigates, are the base fish for anglers here. These little speedsters create havoc on their day with invading schools providing multiple hook-ups and tangles. It’s amazing how a tough little 400g fish can at times cause so many problems but in most instances things have their way of sorting out.

Over the years I don’t know just how many of these baitfish have found their way out from the wharf with a hook in their back under a balloon but they have accounted for many tuna, sharks, salmon and more and now is the time to start trying.

Other species to be found here at this time of year include trevally, yellowtail, garfish, drummer, blackfish, kingfish, flathead on some longer casts – and always have a jig handy for a squid.

For the boaties, off Tathra has some of the best bottom fishing along the coast and it doesn’t matter whether you go north or south, it’s all good. Snapper are common and down south around White Rock has been producing well.

Morwong are also being caught in the same area along with some very good red rock cod. Although not very pretty to look at, I assure you that the firm white flesh tastes just great.

Flathead are on everyone’s hit list and the grounds north, south and straight out the front are producing some excellent tiger and sand flathead with the odd red gurnard tossed in. For better results, fish in 50m-plus for the larger tigers, with the best area out from Bournda Point.

Trolling is a good option at the moment, especially in close around the rocky headlands, with varied species encountered. Salmon are on the shortlist, hunting in packs following schools of white bait along the coast. Once you find them, try casting lures or working soft plastics under the school because a host of other species might also be travelling with them deeper down.

Out wider, tuna schools are providing good light- to medium-tackle sport with yellowfin from 5kg to 40kg, some albacore and plenty of small striped tuna. Trolling skirted, bibbed and bibless lures out over the 100-fathom mark is producing best results although I would put out the lures a lot closer in and run them out to the shelf.

Marlin are also starting to show with fish hooked while chasing the tuna. It pays to put a larger lure out farther than the others to take advantage of this but don’t be surprised if they eat a smaller lure, so rig the smaller lures with heavy mono and a strong hook to protect yourself. It doesn’t seem to matter to the tuna.

ESTUARY TOPS

I like Tathra’s magnificent estuary fishing in the Bega River and surrounding lakes. Lurefishing is great at present and bass are plentiful in the fresh to brackish water. A vast variety of lures will work and dry-fly fishing late of an evening is good.

Downstream, estuary perch are an option. Most perch will come off snags although others will come from the reedy sections along the banks. Lure casting is the preferred method.

Bream are a staple catch in this estuary pretty much through its entire length. Unlike the older days, more bream seem to fall to artificial baits than the real stuff here now. Work just about everywhere because bream are very active feeders and will travel a lot. Pay a lot of attention to shallow, gravelly areas.

A very well-kept secret ( or at least it was!) is the big population of squirt worms in the estuary and those in the know will tell you how good a bait they are. You will find them on gravel banks a kilometre or two up from the entrance and all the way to the fresh.

Use squirties around rocky outcrops, sunken trees, weed beds and flats for whiting and luderick.

Flathead are in good numbers, especially towards the entrance where the are feeding on prawns looking to migrate out of the system. So while you are there try having a prawn on the dark of the moon just to satisfy your taste buds, put out a few live ones for a flattie or two.

1

Frigate mackerel are regularly taken from Tathra Wharf, providing great sport in themselves and sensational livebait for big predators.

2

Stephanie caught this salmon trolling just off the rocks at Tathra.

3

Riley Davies with a lovely bream caught in the Bega River. Pay a lot of attention to shallow, gravelly areas.

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