This is a great month to fish South Coast waters; the air and sea temperatures are rising and with the warmth come fish – lots of them.
Whether you’re fishing the rocks, beach, estuary or offshore, most species can be targeted and good catches can be expected.
Last year was the best start to an offshore game season we have had for a long time. Yellowfin tuna, albacore, striped marlin and some decent bities were calling the waters off Narooma home.
Expect the same this year as schools of yellowfin and albacore have been sighted and the odd fish has been caught up off Tuross. Trolling lures will catch almost all of these early season fish, with medium-sized pushers and larger bibbed minnows getting results.
Lure patterns, colours, trolling speeds are all up to the individual but we have had great success with green colours for the pushers and purple bibbed minnows in the past, especially early in the season.
Most fish will come from the shelf to the 1000-fathom line, with fish from 10kg to 30kg the norm.
Even though these fish aren’t huge, I still recommend using 24kg stand-up as a minimum tackle. Fish to 80kg are a real possibility and it wouldn’t be the first time someone hooked a corker on under-gunned tackle.
A fish of that size is a life time ambition for many of us so stick to the heavier tackle, you just never know when Mr Big will turn up!
Montague Island should be fishing well by now, with most anglers targeting kingfish. Jigs, live bait and lead-lining with squid will all catch fish but every day is different with these sometimes finicky feeders.
A short stop on the bait grounds in the morning is an ace in the hand, as I have seen many frustrated anglers in the past go straight to the island with jig rods their only weapons. As much as I love chasing kings on hardware, a few yellowtail or slimy mackerel in the tank can be the difference to bending rods or not.
Current and tide will determine where to fish but the north end and Fowlhouse reefs are good starting points.
The inshore reefs have been a little slow with the odd mowie, snapper and flattie being caught.
Some better-sized reds are coming from 60 to 70 metres straight off Potato Point. Most fish are around 5kg but catching two or three fish per session is about average.
The snapper fishing should only improve from now as the water warms up. When it does, expect some good fishing on the close reef off Brou Beach. It has produced the goods in the past, with soft plastics and unweighted baits the best methods.
Wagonga Inlet will be in full swing by now with whiting, bream, mulloway and big flathead available.
The flatties will be widespread but the bigger fish tend to travel upstream from late November onwards in this system. Large soft plastics and live poddy mullet are the gun methods if a big lizard is what you’re after.
Bream and whiting will start to hang around the sand flats looking for nippers, squirt worms and small prawns. Live bait will definitely work better here but small shallow-running hard-bodies fished on a high tide around the mangroves will certainly fool a bream or two.
The odd mulloway will also turn up, but if chasing these marvels Tuross Lake will be a better option. A few good fish up to 11kg have been caught over the past few weeks, on lures and fresh bait.
The local beaches have continued to fish well for salmon. Jack Dart and I had a ripper session a week or so ago, catching and releasing around 35 fish up to 2kg. A lot of the fish were caught on bream gear and small metal shiners – great fun on the light stuff!
As the water warms expect bream, whiting and mullet to show up in the shallow beach breaks. Fresh pipis and beachworms are the best baits.
Some good drummer fishing still exists. The rocks down at Handkerchief Beach have produced well over the past few weeks with cabbage the top bait.
The deeper waters of Mystery Bay should start to see some pelagic action from now until May. Small kingies, bonito, salmon and tailor are all a possibility with lures and ganged pilchards the best methods.
You gotta love kids fishing. Here brothers Aaron and Ben Kelly, 12, with a couple of nice Wagonga Inlet duskies. They look pretty stoked with their captures, both caught on soft plastics.Reads: 351