Drought has had a widespread effect on this section of the South Coast, with very strict household water restrictions in force for the whole Summer.
Visitors and locals alike have put in a mighty effort to minimise their water use over this difficult period and should feel proud of themselves. I have never seen the Tuross or Moruya Rivers run dry in places before. I thought of the old saying, ‘drought on the land, drought in the sea’ but, especially in the tidal river sections, the fishing has been great.
The Moruya River is one of the estuaries still open to recreational and professional fishers, so I thought it would be interesting to see how the system was holding up under the extra strain of drought and increased fishing pressure over the holidays.
Over the past few weeks I have wandered up and down the riverbank, or stopped at the local boat ramps and talked to anglers about their catches. It was great to see that not only the locals, but visitors as well, could go down to the river bank or fish from their boats and most days could catch a feed. Bream, blackfish, mullet, flathead, flounder, trevally and garfish have been the main targets.
It was interesting to find that the most popular baits were freshly-pumped nippers, tuna (fresh or frozen), frozen pilchards, whitebait and prawns, in that order.
Some of the visiting anglers said they had been fishing for many hours from the one spot for little success, then, suddenly, they started to catch bream and other species of feed sized proportions.
Taking notice of the stage and height of the tide at the time the bite started, and whether the low or high tide was early in the morning or towards sunset, I could start to see a pattern in the feeding times of the fish compared with the time that the fish were caught. These feeding sessions seemed to be some time in the two hours on either side of low tide or high tide.
There are tide-time and fish-feeding prediction charts available on CD ROM, on the internet (www.fishnet.com.au) or in almanacs and tide charts available from Moruya Camping Outdoors Centre. Call in to the and see Col for all your fishing needs or phone 4474 3081.
Whether fishing from boats or from the bank, the most productive spots were near structures of some kind. The Moruya River has plenty of spots easily accessible to the angler with or without a boat. Boat hire is available at the Moruya River Boatshed, phone 4474 3186. Good locations include the highway bridge, the jetty on the southern bank near the swimming pool and the jetty near the old quarry on the way to the airport on the northern side of the river. This is the quarry which produced the basalt for the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons.
Along the road to the airport, there are many spots that you would not think to fish, but on closer inspection you will find them very productive. You will notice that the bank is lined with large rocks to prevent erosion and these rock walls hold small fish, crabs and shellfish that the bigger fish feed on.
Upstream of the bridge there are rocky outcrops covered with oysters – prime fish feeding areas. As the tide covers these rocks, the fish come in for feed or shelter. This is the time in the tide to start fishing.
Don’t give up if the fish do not come on the bite straight away; give them time to move in. Use burley to induce the fish to come on the bite.
Some tides are higher than others, which means that the water will rise quicker on spring tides and slower on neap tides. When you are fishing neap tides the fish will not come near the rocks until later in the tide, when the last two hours of the run-in tide and the first two hours of the run out will be the most productive.
There are other conditions that will influence the fish to bite, such as barometric pressure changes, storm activity and the moon, but for a start just keep your eye on the tides and I’m sure you catch a feed in the Moruya River.
Brendon Stallion and Shanee Cooke from Canberra had some top bream to take home from the Moruya River.
How’s this for a top bream spot on the rising tide? Notice the oysters.
Make sure the fish is legal length.Reads: 5957