Avoid the holiday crowds
  |  First Published: December 2003

JANUARY in Merimbula means hot days with everything from light breezes to gale-force north-east winds and thousands of people who come from all over, mainly Victoria, for holidays.

Prawning is a very popular pastime on the dark nights but be prepared for a lot of competition for these great little delicacies. Under the highway bridge will be the main area, with lights flashing everywhere you look. Try also right at the entrance of Merimbula Lake. It is normally not as busy and produces some nice trevally if you decide to wet a line as well.

The majority of lakes around Merimbula will be a bit crowded, along with the beaches, so there may be a little effort required to dodge the multitudes. Early mornings are normally the easiest times to find your own piece of water.

Wallagoot Lake, 15 minutes north of Merimbula on the Sapphire Coast Drive, is well worth a look for lure and bait anglers. The lake itself has been closed off to the sea for a long time and produces some huge tailor and surprisingly large snapper. With quality bream and flathead thrown in, it is definitely worth the drive.

The beach where the entrance of Wallagoot Lake would be, is a great spot for salmon. The fabulous gutters that run all the way towards Bournda Island are great for beach anglers. It’s a magnificent area of coast that is nice and quiet, and clean, so remember, leave only footprints behind you when you go.

Haycock Beach, south of Pambula, is still your main beach fishing venue and has been producing some thumping big salmon and tailor of late. Whether you travel north or south, it will be worth the adventure.

On the offshore scene, some beautiful Tasmanian trumpeter can be caught around the 70-fathom mark, depending on the currents at the time. With the warm water already in full swing, things are looking great for game fishing. Marlin should be out there, so check out the 70-fathom mark and head out to the shelf. Smaller yellowfin tuna will be around, along with the schools of striped tuna and the Summer run of sharks.

The kingfish are back at the moment, with large schools sighted off Mowarry. It is great to see a pattern – they were around there last year at the same time, so this is great news for locals and tourists alike. These fish have been caught by trolling pink skirted lures, by using bait – mainly small squid – and by casting soft plastic lures, Rapala CD minnows and poppers. There is something for everyone, whatever your preference may be.

Please remember there are daily bag and size limits on all these fish. Information and licences are available from Blue Water Sports at Merimbula. There have been a number of very large flathead caught in Merimbulas Top Lake (which is great) but many are not being released back into their homes. These larger fish are females, the breeders of the system, and need to be released for the population of fish to remain high and healthy. Always remember, take only what you need and release the rest for the enjoyment of others and for future generations. Happy holidays.

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