It’s a feeding frenzy
  |  First Published: February 2006

At the end of summer most fish are now in their prime and whether you’re fishing the canyons, the estuary, reefs or freshwater, now is the time when fish are starting to put on condition for the cooler months ahead.

Marlin are now firing, feeding on the vast schools of slimy mackerel on the Twelve Mile and surrounding reefs. Various methods work including trolling lures, towing live bait or my preferred way, switch-baiting, which is very productive.

Early in the season, trolling lures or switch-baiting are effective ways of encountering marlin. Switch-baiting involves trolling lures, preferably soft-headed skirted models which have a more natural feel. When a fish is raised, it is enticed closer to the boat by retrieving the lure and a pre-rigged live or dead bait is then cast just behind the lure. The billfish, still fired up and attracted to the lure, has no hesitation in gulping the switch bait.

This time of year there are still frequent catches of school yellowfin, mahi mahi and the occasional short-billed spearfish.

Kingfish are in good numbers around Montague Island and surrounding reefs, which are producing good numbers of more common reef fish like morwong, snapper and the occasional pigfish. Just off the reef edges are plenty of good tiger flathead.

Deeper reefs, like the Twelve Mile, have some exceptional fish at present due to the large bait schools there. Over the continental shelf the new deepwater heavy jigs, used in conjunction with braided line, are producing some surprising results.


Estuary fishing is in its prime with just about all species fishing extremely well. You can fish all the way through the systems from the entrances to the upper reaches, providing you work the tides.

Working the flats over the shallow weedbeds on high tide using nippers or squirtworms is an exciting and very visual way of producing fish. On the run-out tides, once the water has fallen from the flats, the channels and drop-offs can again be worked with similar baits but lures or live mullet are also very effective.

Most species in the estuaries can be encountered with bait or lures at this time of year.Berleying with striped tuna around the drop-offs and rocky outcrops will produce good numbers of bream but be sure when you use a cube of tuna as bait to keep the point of the hook exposed.


Beach fishing is exceptionally good with large schools of whiting and bream frequenting Cuttagee and Camel Rock beaches. Fresh beach worms are the preferred bait but don’t be frightened to pump a few nippers out of the estuary and use them on the beach.

Good schools of salmon are still around in numbers on most local beaches. Usual baits like whole pilchards or strips of striped tuna have been most productive although those who wish to cast metal lures into the surf will encounter quite a few fish too.

Lots of pelagic fish have been off the rocky headlands with salmon dominating most of the captures. Lures retrieved fast are most effective but pilchards drifted under a bobby float can also be deadly.

Several small kingfish have also been caught using these methods, especially around the entrance of Bermagui Harbour. Good numbers of drummer are still abundant around the Blue Pool area with abalone gut baits and bread berley the best way of having some fun.


Late summer is prime time to fish Brogo Dam. A lot of insect life is active around the dam edges, bringing the bass to feed near the surface. So this is a great time to use surface lures or flies, especially late evenings and early mornings.

It’s surprising how large a lure or fly can be used to produce results. Weedbeds or overhangs are the most productive areas. Also allow your lure or fly to sit for a moment after landing on the surface; this is the time that most fish will strike.

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