Quality estuary catches
  |  First Published: June 2006

Even though the Merimbula estuary system is not huge and quite shallow in places, it amazes me how good the fishing can be.

Recently, this system has been on fire and I can’t see any reason why this will change over the coming month. Bream, snapper, flathead, mulloway, trevally and big tailor have all had a chew, with most methods working.

The last three outings I have guided there have resulted in quality bags. We caught all the fish on soft plastics and metal shiners, but anglers using bait have also achieved good results.

Because this system isn’t deep, when using softies we can downsize our jighead weight. The lighter you go, the better – it has certainly worked for us!

The fish are widespread throughout the system but try the weed edges to the south of the lake entrance. The water is only 3 to 5m deep but the fish are there.

Almost any soft plastic will work; keep changing them until you find the one the fish want to eat. However, smaller stickbaits have been the standouts.

The Bega River, just north of Tathra, has also been fishing well. Bream, estuary perch and flatties have been around in numbers with the perch moving further down the system as we head into winter. These fine sportfish will be holding up along Thompsons this month – it’s just a matter of locating them for some fun. Small soft plastics, hard-bodied lures and flies should produce.

Offshore there have been some reasonable yellowfin and albacore with most fish from the 70-fathom line out to the shelf. The fish are between 10 and 30kg but June could see some bruisers turn up.

Southern bluefin are also a possibility, especially given the great run of fish we’ve had down south. Let’s hope some stragglers decide to head up the east coast.

The marlin have all but gone and I haven’t heard of a fish being caught for a few weeks now. We had a relatively quiet marlin run this year, possibly due to the longline slaughter further up the coast during February and March – a disgrace in my books.

Last winter, the inshore snapper run was exceptional. Limit bags of 10 fish per person were common with fish averaging between 2 and 3kg.

This year has started the same, with morwong, trevally and flatties also having a chew along with the snapper. Fresh cuttlefish, squid and tuna fillets are the best baits with most inshore reefs producing quality fish.

Kingfish and bonito are also possible, especially if you have live bait out when fishing the bottom.

Fishos spinning the rocks have had success with salmon and bonito in good numbers. Any chrome slice from 30 to 50g will produce results with the headland at Tura the pick of the spots. This ledge is quite deep and with so many snapper around, a ganged pillie thrown in the wash could also surprise you.

Some nice drummer and luderick have been caught at Short Point on fresh cabbage and cunjevoi. A little berley here will increase your catch rate. A low tide early in the morning is best.

With the westerly winds of late, surf conditions have been dismal. Salmon, tailor, bream and mulloway are still there but with no cover from foamy wash, they have become gun-shy.

Anglers doing well are those who have downsized their tackle and used fresh bait. Fish after dark in calm conditions because the fish tend to feed more freely then.

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