Rush hour at Merimbula
  |  First Published: December 2008

Merimbula during January is like the mad rush of a city peak hour but, even with the increased boat traffic, some exceptional fishing will be on offer.

Offshore action has been steady with snapper, morwong, kingfish and striped tuna keeping most boat anglers happy.

Sand and tiger flathead have been quiet but that will change this month as the water warms further. The ‘Sticks’ area off the Pambula River mouth should produce some good catches for those drifting over the sand.

Some decent reds have been encountered in the deeper water off Lennards Island (30 to 40 fathoms) with kingfish to 4kg at Long Point and Horseshoe Reef.

All this action will continue this month. If one reef isn’t firing, move to another until you find the fish – don’t let them find you, you may be waiting a while.

Better baits are fresh squid, striped tuna cubes and mackerel fillets.

Out wide, the action should really fire up. Until now we have been getting sporadic catches of yellowfin tuna and albacore at the continental shelf but with all the striped tuna schools around, it won’t be long before the billfish action hots up.

January is the start of it all with anglers trolling lures and switch-baiting doing well. It’s also worth slow trolling a striped tuna on a bridle rig to keep the bait alive longer.

What the currents and temperatures are doing will determine where to fish, but generally from the 40-fathom line onwards is worth a look.

Striped marlin are the main species encountered though in years has produced small blacks up to 70kg a lot closer to shore.

Trolling larger slimy mackerel on downriggers has worked in the past and if you’re fishing deeper reefs like Turingal Reef north of Merimbula, big kingfish also are on the cards.


In the estuaries it’s all go with Merimbula and Pambula lakes fishing well. Pambula in particular has been outstanding for flathead, bream, whiting, trevally, flounder and tailor.

The Main Basin is quite shallow with the average depth 5m. This makes it ideal for anglers just starting out with soft plastics, you can get to the bottom very easily and work you’re lures in the strike zone longer.

Fishing the weed-fringed edges with lightly weighted plastics should produce a decent bag. I’d be using plastics up to 70mm in natural colours for best results.

Anglers fishing with live nippers and worms have done well on whiting and bream. Unfortunately with these softer baits, pickers can become a problem but if you have the patience better fish will come.

On the beaches, the usual whiting, bream and yellow-eye mullet make up most bags. Beach worms, pipis and striped tuna cubes for the bream are working.

Most beaches are holding fish with the northern end of Tura Beach a good starting point. There’s been a cracker gutter there recently, make small casts just past the shore dump with a light outfit with a small running ball sinker rig.

Salmon have been prolific with some fish nudging 3kg mostly falling to whole pilchards or blue bait. This month we could see a mulloway or two, with fresh slab baits like tailor best.

The rock-spin diehards will be around in numbers from now on as a variety of surface speedsters hit lures. Kingfish, striped tuna and bonito are on the cards and you never know when that stray yellowfin might come close to the rocks.

Tura Head is the place to fish, but the wharf and rocks in Merimbula Bay are also worth a look.

There will still be the ever-reliable salmon around if all else fails. Bream, blackfish and the odd groper will hold close to the rock washes so lightly-weighted crabs, cunjevoi and green cabbage weed are go and a little berley will enhance your chances of feed.

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