Crayfish head inshore
  |  First Published: May 2004

MERIMBULA in May can mean anything from nice calm days to gale-force south-westerly winds – it truly is the beginning of the Winter onslaught.

The ocean temperature is steadily dropping and so is the early morning temperature. But May is a fabulous time for all of you who like a bit of snorkelling. You will begin to find that the crayfish have begun their journey into the shallow, weedy bays on the South Coast. Apart from the fabulous rewards of dinner if you happen to bag one, it is simply a great way to take in the underwater lifestyle that so few explore and so many take for granted.

Please be aware that there is a bag limit per day on crays of two per person as well as a couple of other rules on size and type. For further information contact your local Fisheries office or visit http://www.fisheries.nsw.gov.au/rec/sw/bag_and_size.htm for a full list of what you can and can not legally pull from the water, including fish species.

Around the headlands large drummer, blackfish, sweep and salmon are congregated. They tend to like the washes so many of them hang around the foam on the surface or the larger boulders just below the surface. Always be sure and check wind, waves and prevailing weather before venturing out onto these rocks and ledges – we don’t want your trip to end up wet!


Merimbula Lake has been producing some nice-sized bream and whiting of late and this trend should continue throughout May. Have a go at targeting the front of the lake, especially at low tide. These fish and many others, including trevally, will be hanging around in the channel, narrowing the odds of a catch.

Best baits are always of the fresh variety. Nippers, squirt worms or beach worms should do the trick or, for the bream, try a chunk of striped tuna.

Trolling around the headlands will produce some quality fish, especially early in May. Kingfish and salmon should still be around and, hopefully, some nice bonito.

The bonito have been scarce the last few years. Once considered a pest by land-based game anglers for pinching their lines, bonnies are great fun on light bass rods, that’s for sure. Try any of the deep-running Rapalas on the brighter days, then switch to the shallow runners late in the afternoon or on overcast days. These tried tactics seem to work well for salmon and kingies, so good luck.


The local dusky flathead have really copped a hiding of the late. It seems to be mostly due to the mass popularity of lure-fishing. This type of fishing has put the catch rate at an all-time high which, on one hand, is fantastic but we need to keep a very close eye on fish stocks that have dropped dramatically over recent months.

It’s great to see everyone out there having a go but remember catch and release – this is by far the most important method of keeping the stocks up and a photo is a fabulous trophy for the wall.

Victorian Fisheries have rapidly bought in new laws on flathead as a direct result of the effectiveness of soft plastic lures. Maybe it is time for a change in NSW as well. One of the biggest buzzes I get now is from taking my nephew fishing and watching him catch and release a flatty.

Merimbula Lake has never been professionally netted so for those of us who like to blame the pros, think again – it’s the amateurs who are contributing to the demise of a once incredibly abundant fish.

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