Seeing red offshore
  |  First Published: July 2006

South-westerly winds straight off the snow-covered mountains are not the recipe for most fishos to wet a line in comfort.

But for those who are willing to brave the elements, some exceptional fishing still exists, especially on the close inshore reefs.

Over the past four weeks the snapper have really had a chew and this will certainly continue for a few months. Almost all the inshore reefs around Merimbula are holding good populations of reddies with most fish averaging 2kg.

With the cuttlefish run in full swing, bigger specimens to 7kg are possible. Reefs like Horseshoe, Long, White Rocks and Lennards Island would be the pick. If you’re not getting fish at one reef, try another. These guys will be holding up somewhere so persist and you will be rewarded.

The method that has worked lately has been anchoring and berleying, then floating unweighted baits down the trail. Sometimes a small ball sinker straight onto the hook is needed if current or wind become a problem.

Fresh cuttlefish, squid, slimy mackerel fillets and striped tuna cubes would be the pick of the baits. Dropping soft plastics down the berley trail will work at times. I like using 3 to 5” lures with a variety of jighead sizes, depending on conditions.

Most hits come on the initial drop so be alert at all times. Braid or gelspun line is a must for this type of fishing as it allows you to feel everything.

Snapper can hit like a freight train or like a whiting tap, so be ready and strike at everything. Other species that can be expected while targeting reds are morwong, trevally, leatherjackets and flathead to a lesser degree.

Offshore during July is usually quiet. There is the possibility of southern bluefin tuna but I wouldn’t bother. Wait for later in the season, save up the fuel and target the early-season yellowfin during November.


Winter is prime time for rockhoppers targeting blackfish, drummer and groper. These species love the cold water and any headland or rock platform that has a decent wash and cabbage-encrusted rocks will hold good concentrations of these species. Short Point, Long Point and the rocks near the aquarium wharf are prime locations.

Cabbage, cunjevoi, black crabs and abalone gut will all work at times and having a little berley in the wash will also improve your results. Expect salmon and tailor on the outside edges of the wash zones, with ganged pilchards and chrome slice lures producing the goods. Winter salmon on the stones can get big so I would suggest using heavier tackle to lift them out if washing them up is not an option.

The beaches have been fishing well for salmon up to 3kg and will continue so. Tailor have been sporadic but some nice bream are making the beach fishos happy. North Tura and the southern end of Bournda Beach have been the best locations.

Fish the rocky shoreline with pipis, beachworms and cut pilchard pieces for best results. If targeting the bream, remember to downsize your tackle. A light 3.2m rod is adequate with a matching reel and 6lb line.

Long casts are not required as most of the bream are just past the shore dump. Again, berley will help with crushed pipi shells a good start.

With the cool water all is not lost in the estuaries, despite what a lot of anglers might think. The flatties do go quiet but big girls patrol the shallow banks looking for a feed, especially on a rising tide late in the afternoon.

Trevally, bream and blackfish can also be caught with Merimbula and Pambula lakes the two estuaries to fish. Pambula fished sensationally last winter with soft plastics towards the entrance getting the majority of fish. Trevally and salmon were the main species and in shallow water their fighting qualities certainly shine through.

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