Use your head in the estuary
  |  First Published: December 2007

This is an extremely busy month for the Narooma area with visiting and local anglers jostling for prime fishing locations, particularly in the estuaries.

Wagonga Inlet has seen a significant increase in boat traffic and angling pressure, making fishing somewhat difficult. Those fishos who are doing well have had to downsize lures and use only the freshest bait or, better still, live bait.

Bream and whiting numbers are increasing as the water warms with the sand flats on the western side of the main highway bridge a good place to start. Fish the incoming tide for best results with afternoon sessions increasing your chances further.

The usual 20-knot nor’-easter will be blowing but the ripple it provides on the water acts as a cover in the shallows. It can be a little harder to fish in the wind but the increased catch rates should prove more than adequate compensation for the tougher conditions.

Out in the main basin, flathead numbers and sizes have been down a little on previous years but there are certainly some great fish still to be had. We have managed some serious crocodiles to 95cm lately, with bigger soft plastics working best.

Fishing the lures slowly has been a key to success, with water depths from 6m to 12m ideal.

January always sees some monster flathead caught, if you’re lucky enough to tangle with one and capture it, do the right thing and let her go. I know I’ve said it before but these breeding female fish are super-important to our future flathead stocks.

Up at Tuross the fishing has been very good. Flathead, bream, whiting and blackfish have all been caught with some days outstanding and others a little quiet.

The fish are quite widespread throughout the system although the sand flats have produced some great whiting action. Nippers have been the best baits. Use them on a lightly weighted outfit and some tasty fillets are destined for the pan.


Outside, the action will be fast and furious. We have already had a memorable start to the game fishing season with yellowfin tuna to 70kg, black and striped marlin, albacore and an array of shark species plentiful.

The yellowfin at Montague Island have continued to chew. No doubt they are different schools of fish being pelagics but it’s great to see that they are making Montague home on their journey down south. It’s been a very long time since I’ve seen tuna action this good at the island.

Out on the shelf all of the above species have played the game. A lot of the tuna are coming from the 60-fathom line to the shelf, with trolling the most productive method. You get to cover more ground by doing this but if you do locate a school it may be worth berleying and cubing.

We have had great success in the past by locating the fish on top with lures and then reverting to a berley trail. If you haven’t raised a fish inside 20 minutes, continue trolling.

Anglers using bibbed minnows like the Rapala X-Rap 20 have donged tuna from 20kg to 40kg. These lures can be a bit big for the albacore, for which smaller skirted pushers are the preferred option.

Expect marlin numbers to increase to as the water warms more. At the time of writing it was hovering around 22° – ideal for striped marlin. Trolling lures will again be the best way to target them but trolling a live slimy mackerel or smaller striped tuna could pay dividends.

Clued-up game crews will also use switch-baits after teasing up a beaky – great fun and definitely an adrenalin rush when it all comes together.

On the inshore reefs and gravel patches, expect the usual suspects like snapper, morwong, pigfish and flathead. Almost all reefs will hold fish with the better places to try including Tuross Wide, Potato Point, Brou and the southern end of Montague.

Kingfish numbers have been OK at Montague but they have been relatively small. This should change this month with live bait getting bigger fish.

Try the Fowlhouse Reef on the western side of the island but be prepared to lose a few baits to the seals.

The local beaches have been fishing quite well for bream, whiting and yellow-eye mullet. Fresh beach worms, pipis and striped tuna cubes are the best baits for the bream.


Early mornings are the go this month as the dreaded north-east winds in the afternoons make fishing the beaches difficult. Most beaches will produce but those with deeper gutters or some kind of rock formation will fish better. Tilba, Narooma Main, Brou and Blackfellows would be the pick.

The rock fishing for bread-and-butter species like luderick and drummer has slowed to a crawl with the warmer water. Drummer are almost non-existent with plenty of effort also needed even for a feed of blackfish fillets.

Dalmeny and the lower section of the Golf Course Rocks have produced a few fish but berley an absolute must for more consistent results.

But if you’re after pelagics, you would have a smile from ear to ear. Kingfish, striped tuna and frigate mackerel have been caught from the Golfie front ledge as well as High Rock at Mystery Bay.

Throwing chromed lures and whole pilchards rigged on ganged hooks have both worked well. Expect a few salmon and tailor on the outer wash zones, especially on pilchards.

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