The inshore action off Merimbula has been dynamite and should continue throughout April. With water around 24° on our doorstep, all sorts of pelagics are working local waters.
Striped and black marlin, yellowfin tuna and mahi mahi have been caught from the 40-fathom line inwards, with quite a few smaller striped marlin been sighted swimming inside Merimbula Bay itself. Most of these fish have been smaller models, although a few have pushed 80kg but seeing them so close to shore is a real buzz for most inshore fishos.
Offshore, the marlin action is in full swing with switched-on game crews getting three to five shots a day.
Trolling lures has worked well, as have slowly trolled live baits like striped tuna or bridled slimy mackerel. Switch-baiting a live bait after teasing up the fish on a hookless lure has also paid dividends.
Most boats are fishing from the 60-fathom line to the shelf with the Tathra Canyons a hot spot. If you find the bait and concentrate your efforts around it, a marlin won’t be to far away.
Later this month yellowfin tuna up to 60kg can be expected with most fish coming from the shelf to the 1000-fathom line. Last year a lot of good tuna were caught late in April and this year appears almost a carbon copy.
With the tuna come sharks, and there have been sightings of big makos and hammerheads. Always have an outfit with wire ready.
With the warm water the snapper have been a little quiet but morwong, sand and tiger flathead, leatherjackets, john dory and pigfish have made up good bags for a feed.
All the reefs are holding fish, with Long Reef, White Rocks and Horseshoe Reef just south of Pambula the pick. Fresh squid, striped tuna and whole pilchards are the baits to use.
April is prime time for the rockhopper who loves throwing metal for pelagics and kingfish, bonito, salmon and tailor are almost guaranteed, with mackerel and longtail tuna real possibilities.
Best places to try are the rocks on the northern side of Merimbula Bay, Short Point and Tura Head.
Metal slices of 40g to 60g are ideal but remember to upgrade the trebles. Most lures these days come with light hooks so take the time to put on stronger ones. This minor tackle adjustment could mean the difference between a prize capture and another story of the one that got away.
The beaches will continue to fish well for all the usual species. Bream, whiting and mullet will be in the gutters. Use light mono line or braid and live beach worms, fresh pipis and fresh prawns. Salmon and tailor will also be available if the smaller cousins are quiet.
With recent rain we experienced the estuaries are still running a little fresh but this hasn’t stopped the fish chewing. The sections towards the estuary entrances have fished well but the deeper sections of Merimbula Lake still keep producing.
In the channels bream, flathead, blackfish and whiting continue to chew, especially on the flooding tide as the cleaner water enters. Smaller soft plastics, tuna cubes, bass yabbies and fresh local prawns have been the best way to tempt them.
Casting squirt worms over the sand flats has produced some exceptional whiting.
Further upstream in the main basin, flathead, snapper and big tailor have made up most anglers’ bags. I had a session there a few days ago with flathead and tailor in numbers with the best flathead going 92cm, a true croc that was released in super condition after a few photos with one very happy client.
The run-up tide over the weed beds south of the basin entrance fished well for flatties on soft plastics and tailor on small shiners. The tailor were big for the estuary with most fish between 45cm and 50cm, great sport on light braid.
All the fish were caught by casting lures, rather than trolling. We would get upwind of them and cast down to the fish. If we had the motor going they would spook very easily, which some anglers found out while trolling.Reads: 732