Marlin make their mark
  |  First Published: February 2009

As schools of baitfish congregate along our coastline, marlin start to prowl, and at times the feeding feasts can be amazing. If you are in the right place at the right time you will definitely be in the thick of things.

Marlin are gaining in intensity with February being one of the best months to target them. Water temps have risen bringing the gamefish with it, and Port Bermagui provides excellent access to them.

Find the bait and you will find the predators. This can happen very close to shore or way outwide over the Continental Shelf. I have seen anglers in the past drive right past fish because they couldn’t read the signs. Check water temps on gauges and learn to read the water.

Look for clear cobalt water with plenty of life in it. A safe starting point is the Twelve Mile Reef, here blacks, blues and striped marlin will be in search of the ever present bait schools.

The best way to test if fish are in the area is with a spread of lures. This allows you to travel around sounding baitfish as you go, especially if they are not up on the surface. Also listen to the radio, excited anglers who have encountered a marlin may give away an area where these fish are concentrated.

Other gamefish you may encounter in these areas are short billed spearfish, mahi mahi, hammerheads, mixed tuna species and some very nice yellowfin.

Around Montague Island kingfish are in very good numbers, however, most are varied in size. Jigging is a popular method and will take these fish regularly, and bait fishing with either live mackerel or yellowtail will also be affective.

If the fish are near the surface trolling may produce kingies and also some of the many small tuna that frequent there, like bonito, strippies or frigates. But be prepared, black marlin take a liking to these small tuna so towing one around may gain you a pleasant surprise.

Lots of small tuna are being encountered closer to shore where they can be targeted on lighter gear. Some of the better areas are the entrance to Bermagui Harbour, around the Blue Pool and down off the Brothers rocky outcrops. In the mix are some very nice salmon, which will keep any seasoned angler on their toes. Expect tailor towards dusk and dawn.

For the reef and bottom fishers, things couldn’t be better. Depending on how far you want to travel, most systems are holding good stocks of fish. In close to shore many anglers are having fun with plastic baits on a wide variety of species. Most are targeting snapper but are coming up with real mixed bags of assorted reef species through to some nice lightweight pelagics.

Conventional bait fishing is producing the best on the wider grounds with large tiger flathead top of the list. Good sandies are there too, along with gummy sharks, morwong, perch and nannygai in the deeper areas.

For the beach goers, those salmon that have been hanging around the rocky areas will also move along the beaches where an angler can easily obtain their bag limits.

For a bit of variety, southern yellowfin bream will entertain along with plenty of whiting. These fish are best obtained on beachworms or fresh pipi. Night will produce some larger species like gummy sharks, jewfish with plenty of tailor in between the larger bites.

February is one of the best months to be fishing the estuaries around Bermagui. Because of the amount of prawns this season, many of the estuaries are fishing extremely well. Fish are in excellent condition and, with the warm water, are feeding quite freely.

Whether you like to target estuary fish on lures or bait you will not find a better time than the present. Nor will you have a better opportunity to fish in different locations that you may not normally consider.

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