It’s all on tap right now
  |  First Published: December 2007

With water hovering around 23°, it’s no wonder locals and visiting anglers are having a ball on the pelagic action off Merimbula.

Yellowfin tuna, albacore, striped marlin and a host of shark species will all be available, with a few black marlin thrown in to make things even more interesting.

All methods will work; trolling lures and live bait, switch-baiting and berleying and cubing will catching tuna, too.

All indications look promising for a ripper game fish season if the captures of recent weeks are anything to go by. Anglers have been treated to some great tuna action with fish to 50kg and a few bigger ones lost.

Most of the action has come from the 40-fathom line to well beyond the continental shelf. Find the good water and concentrations of baitfish and it won’t be long before the rod is bending.

On the inshore reefs the action has been steady with snapper, morwong, kingfish and striped tuna keeping most boaties happy.

The flatties have been quiet but that will change this month as the water warms. The area off Pambula River mouth should produce results.

Some decent reds have been encountered in the deeper water off Lennards Island in 30 to 40 fathoms with kingfish to 7kg at Long Point and Horseshoe Reef.

All this action will continue over January. If one reef isn’t firing, move to another until you find the fish – don’t let them find you, you might be waiting awhile. Better baits to use are fresh squid, striped tuna fillets, pilchards and live bait, particularly for the kingfish.


In the estuaries flathead, bream, whiting, mullet, tailor, blackfish and mulloway will all be available but, unfortunately, not all anglers will catch fish. This is not to say the fish aren’t there, but because they will be under so much pressure and boat noise they will certainly slow down.

This is where we have to be a little smarter to get better results. Fishing the early mornings, late afternoons and tide changes will produce but tackle selection is critical for more consistent catch rates.

If targeting flathead with soft plastics, use a leader material much lighter than you normally would to put more fish in the boat. It’s the same with bait: fresh or live bait will certainly outfish dead frozen stuff.

The Top Lake at Merimbula has been firing and this where I suggest to fish. The shallower, weed-fringed edges are dynamite for the flatties, with bream and legal snapper on the cards as well.

If you’re after whiting, try the sand flats down the front of the system with live squirt worms or nippers and light line with little or no weight.

The beaches will continue to produce over coming weeks. Bream, whiting, tailor, salmon, mullet and the odd jewfish will hit baits with gusto. Best baits are live beach worms, prawns, pipis and striped tuna cubes. Pilchards and bluebait will suffice for the pelagic species.


The jewies will be a lot harder to target than the other beach species but put in enough time and patience and rewards will happen. I like using fresh squid, tailor fillets and big bunches of live beach worms for the mulloway.

Fishing for these bronzed brutes isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but I can guarantee you if you hook, one it’ll become an addiction and you’ll be back on that beach in no time!

Places to fish are Tura and North Tura, although any beach with a decent gutter is worth a look.

Anglers fishing for pelagics off the stones know now is a great time to target surface speedsters. Species like kingfish, striped tuna, bonito and frigate mackerel are all on the cards and you never know when that stray yellowfin comes close enough to the rocks to target.

Tura Head is the gun place to fish but the wharf and rocks in Merimbula Bay are also worth a look. Throwing chromed lures and floating live baits under balloons would be the best methods to tangle with a big fish.

There will still be the ever-reliable salmon around if all else fails; these are great sport on light tackle.

Bream, blackfish and the odd groper will still hold close to the rock washes so a lightly-weighted bait is another option. Crabs, cunjevoi and green cabbage weed are the best. A little berley in the wash will enhance your chances of getting a feed.

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