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Offshore fishos seeing red
  |  First Published: August 2009



Offshore anglers have been having a field day, especially those fishing the inshore reefs who have been bagging plenty of snapper for those who put in the time and effort.

The fish are quite widespread, from Tuross to Tilba, with the deeper reefs in 50m to 60m faring best. Those using the freshest of bait are being rewarded with reds to 4kg.

In the westerly winds which have dominated lately, quite a few crews are anchoring up, berleying and bringing the snapper to them.

With a mixture of unweighted and lightly weighted baits like slimy mackerel fillets, they are getting the reds off the bottom and quite often getting the bites half-way down.

This represents exciting fishing and usually accounts for the bigger snapper.

Ideally, you want to be anchored on the reef with your berley and baits over the gravel. Being anchored in the right spot is paramount and a few goes may be needed to get the ideal positioning.

Of course, a lot will depend on current, wind and the like, but the extra effort will pay handsome dividends in the end.

Those who are drifting with paternoster rigs are also doing well, though the fish are generally smaller, around a kilo, but they still taste the same.

Mixed in with the snapper are morwong, john dory and a few very big tiger flathead.

I expect this action to continue as we head into Spring, though the snapper may not be as concentrated as they are now.

Areas to try include the southern end of Montague Island, Brou Reef out wide and the deeper reefs off Tuross and Potato Point.

A little farther offshore, when conditions have suited, blue-eye trevalla and gemfish have been abundant on the deeper canyon walls.

A few locals have done particularly well of late fishing 170-200 fathoms of water using electric reels. This sort of fishing is certainly not for everyone but can still be fun and a great feed is usually on the cards.

Game fishers have seen our run of southern bluefin tuna come to an end but next month we should see an early run of albacore and school yellowfin tuna begin. Let’s hope so as these fine sport fish give anglers hours of endless fun.

For the rockhoppers, blackfish and drummer continue to do the right thing. It’s been a top year for both these species with most local hot spots producing results.

This action should continue with bigger drummer a real possibility, especially on the southern rock ledge at Mystery Bay. Lightly weighted baits like crab or cunjevoi cast into the wash there offer your best chance at getting a monster pig.

Expect some above-average blackfish around the inside of the southern breakwall, too. Every September it fires there but get in early because the prime positions go quickly.

Fresh green weed is favoured, but finding the quality stuff can be a challenge in itself.

Salmon are abundant on most headlands with Dalmeny a good starting point. Ganged pilchards and chrome lures will get the desired results.

ESTUARIES TOUGH

The estuaries have been a bit tough, especially Wagonga Inlet. There are fish there but the cold Winter water has slowed them down to a crawl.

The action will improve as the water warms further with flathead, bream, pinkie snapper and tailor beginning to chew.

With flathead, I’d still be concentrating around the shallower margins, particularly upstream of the power lines and into the 4-knot zone.

We’ve been getting the odd good dusky there but a slow, methodical presentation with smallish plastics is a must.

Bream anglers fishing the oyster racks have struggled in the clear water but expect that to change also. Deeper-diving hardbodied lures close to structure should produce a fish or two.

Up at Tuross, things have changed for the better.

The lake has risen around 30cm with recent rain which has spurred on the fish big-time. On a recent guided trip there we had a cracking day that yielded quality estuary perch, good bream and flathead to 65cm.

Tuross is not back to its awesome self but it’s well and truly on the way.

Expect bream and flathead in the lower sections as the month goes on. There should be a few prawns starting to show downstream and this in turn should stir the fish.

Smaller plastics and hardbodies cast to the edges should produce results.

HOMEWORK HELPS

The beaches have been a little quiet, mainly due to the lack of swell. This will improve once we get some decent whitewater but there’s still fish to be had for those putting in the time.

A bit of ‘homework’ spent driving around the local headlands and reading the beaches for gutters and holes will greatly improve your chances.

Down south, Tilba still has a good gutter, as does the northern end of Blackfellows Beach, near Potato Point.

Some reasonable catches of salmon and tailor have come from these two beaches. Fish to 2kg have been caught with the odd gummy shark to 6kg as well.

Anglers using paternoster rigs with a bait/popper combination have done OK with lures accounting for a few fish, too. Better baits have been pilchards, blue bait and whitebait.

This month we should see the bream and whiting get a little more active, with live beach worms and pipis the best baits. The estuary mouth entrances will pay dividends as both these species will be entering the systems over coming weeks. A little berley in the shore dump won’t hurt, either.

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