Autumn fishing is brilliant along the South Coast, especially in the Bermagui area.
Warm seas in conjunction with muggy weather have fish feeding extremely well all over the place, from inland dams, estuaries, rocks and beaches to the cobalt-blue oceans.
Marlin are in their best numbers in March, concentrating on the Twelve Mile Reef area. All species can be encountered at this time of the year feeding on the vast baitfish schools that congregate over the reefs.
Anglers will also encounter short-billed spearfish, mako and other sharks, mahi mahi and usually plenty of schools of small to mid-range yellowfin tuna.
The preferred method at this time of year is to troll a live slimy mackerel or my preferred bait of a live or skipped frigate mackerel. Frigates can often be acquired by trolling a small fly a long way back while you troll livies for the predators.
Another good method is switch baiting with lures and teasers without hooks, attracting the marlin to the boat where the lure is replaced with a live bait. This is a very spectacular way to catch marlin.
Kingfish around Montague Island are in good numbers at present, averaging around 6 to 7kg with some fish up to 15kg. Most kings have been taken with traditional methods such as jigs, squid and live bait but don’t be frightened to troll bibbed and bibless lures over the western reefs. These will also produce fish.
The start of autumn usually sees good numbers of larger snapper frequenting the coast. The reefs south of Bermagui, such as The Brothers, Lobster Patch and Goalen Head, attract good numbers of reds. Most anglers prefer to drift with conventional paternoster rigs using squid and cut fish baits but increasingly anglers are anchoring and berleying using large drift baits such as whole or half slimy mackerel, which produce fish around 7 to 8kg.
Other reef fish are also very plentiful with blue and jackass morwong, tiger flathead, ocean perch, pigfish, leatherjackets and many more species featuring in regular bags.
The deep water off the Twelve Mile Reef will produce most reef fish in good numbers and anglers who feed a live bait out under a balloon might be pleasantly surprised with a billfish hook-up.
Large schools of yellowfin bream are frequenting most estuaries surrounding Bermagui. Fish to 46cm haven’t been uncommon with most fish averaging around 40cm. Berleying with striped tuna on the start of an incoming tide will account for a lot of these beautiful chrome-plated fish. Baits like nippers, prawns or worms are also encountering their fair share of fish as the tide creeps over the flats. Hard and soft lures will take fish but they are not as effective as fresh bait.
Large flathead are also being encountered, especially in the Bermagui River, on lures, live bait and in berley trails while fishing for bream. Good-sized trevally are getting into the act along with some very large mullet.
Luderick are plentiful around the bridge boat ramp and rock walls towards the harbour. Cabbage and green weed are producing most fish on the last of the run-out tide and the first of the flood. Reasonable numbers of luderick are still being taken on nippers further up the estuary around the weedbeds.
Some very nice whiting are making their presence felt in the shallow water over the nipper flats.
Calmer conditions are allowing anglers to fish the rocks more often, producing some excellent catches. Of an evening as the shadows of the cliffs move over the water, berleying with bread and using abb gut as bait has produced some excellent catches of black drummer. Fish around 2kg have been the average with some very nice bream and trevally as well.
Spinning off the rocks with large metal lures has produced very nice salmon and tailor with the odd kingfish a pleasant surprise. Small frigate mackerel have also been common using lighter line with small metal lures retrieved fast.
Bream that have not yet moved into the estuaries have been encountered regularly on most beaches adjacent to the rocks. Again, berleying these areas with striped tuna will produce more fish but traditional baits like beach worms and pipis will get the bream and whiting.
Salmon and tailor are excellent along most beaches with some very nice gummy sharks captured on the full moon.
Large numbers of black crickets have exploded in the Brogo area. Those fishing light line are having some fantastic fishing in Brogo Dam. Cricket imitations are also having their fair share of success.
Surface lures, especially of an evening, are producing some very exciting topwater fishing. Anglers through the day time are having limited success using deeper lures, such as spinnerbaits, around the weedbeds.
The Brogo River is still producing good fish below the dam wall.Reads: 560