We’ve had a pretty good start to the offshore gamefish season so far, with a number of yellowfin tuna up to 40kg being caught around the continental shelf.
All of the fish have been caught on trolled skirted lures. The water where the fish have been caught is nothing spectacular, either – around 18°C and the colour has been anything but blue.
There have also been some albacore up to 22kg giving the local baitfish population a hammering. A lot of these albies have been caught very close to shore, especially off Narooma, where I have seen schools only a couple of kilometres off the golf course rocks. I have not seen albacore so close to shore for a long time and it’s spine-tingling to think of what could happen in coming months.
December is the first month that we can expect striped marlin. Striped tuna should be abundant by now and the marlin won’t be to far behind.
Out wide is the place to fish early in the season, with Tuross Canyons, the Kink and Bermie’s 12-Mile Reef the best places to try. Trolling skirted lures up to 30cm long is the go, especially for striped marlin. Slow trolling large livies will also work but I have had better success this way later in the season when there are more black marlin around.
The inshore reefs have still been fishing well with snapper up to 3kg quite common. There have been a lot of long-finned perch, especially at Montague Island. These are great on the plate; put them in an ice slurry immediately and you can’t go wrong.
Other bottom-dwellers that can be expected include mowies, sand and tiger flathead, Tassie trumpeter, pigfish – the list just goes on. Most of the reef systems will hold fish in December, it’s just a matter of trying a few until the fish are found.
There are some stud dusky flathead getting around Wagonga Inlet. A client got one the other day that went exactly 1m – that’s about 7kg of flattie and great fun on 2kg braid. We took a few shots, then let her go.
Bream, trevally and whiting will also be on the cards with live nippers and squirt worms doing the damage. Any of the numerous sandflats in this system are worth a go on a flood tide.
Bermagui Harbour and Wallaga Lake have been fishing well for quality bream, with squirt worms the best bait. Wallaga is firing for bigger-than-average flathead. Soft plastics have accounted for the majority.
There are a lot of blackfish under the bridge, where unweighted nippers have been working well early in the morning. I expect this run of good fish to continue.
Salmon have been abundant along the beaches. There has certainly been an increase in salmon numbers this year and it’s great to see, as they are a superb sportfish. Almost any beach will have salmon on it. Try to fish the deeper gutters and holes to maximise your chances. Bluebait and pilchards will work best, with surf poppers catching their fair share, too.
The rocks will continue to fish well for bream, blackfish, salmon and tailor.
This is a great time of the year so grab the rods and get out there!
1.Terry Monichino with 5.5kg of stud dusky flathead taken in Wagonga Inlet on a 140mm Squidgy Wriggler soft plastic.
2.More mulloway like this 9kg specimen caught by the author will fall to larger soft plastics in coming months.Reads: 579