It must be marlin time
  |  First Published: December 2009

January means marlin. This is usually the start of the season for these fish but it all depends on the currents.

Anyone who saw the movie Finding Nemo will tell you the EAC (East Australian Current) determines what game fish arrive along the east coast and where they concentrate.

It all starts with the food sources, with minute organisms such as krill and plankton attracting small predators in the form of slimy mackerel to feast on this rich food source, in turn bringing in the largest predators such as marlin, sharks and tuna.

Having studied the currents on the CSIRO Bluelink website (www.bom.gov.au/oceanography/forecasts/) over the past few months, I’ve watched a series of eddies form along the coast, drifting south to our part of the world and they just ooze fish.

If these currents keep coming south as predicted we should have water around 22° for the holidays – perfect for striped marlin.

Baitfish often congregate along or inside the edge of the continental shelf where upwellings bring food. This is where you find the marlin, with one of the best areas the Twelve Mile Reef, 8nm slightly south-east of Bermagui.

Lure fishing early in the season may be best until you find where the fish are, then change over to bait. Sharks – hammerheads, makos or whalers – may take a liking to your baits, while various species like yellowfin tuna, striped tuna or mahi mahi may be by-catch on the lures.

Remember that there have been more big blue marlin caught in January than any other time so if it is a big blue you seek, this is your time.

The mid-water and bottom fishing is excellent. Montague Island is producing reasonable numbers of kingfish on various methods, with jigs or live bait the most consistent.

On the way back you can stop off over the sand east of Tilba to try for sand flathead, gurnard or maybe a gummy shark. Good numbers of these fish are there to top up a bag on the way home.

The reefs south-east of Bermagui, like the Four Mile, Six Mile and those east of Goalen Head, are producing reasonable snapper, plenty of large blue morwong and quite a few jackass morwong.

Once off the edge of the reef, tiger flathead take over and it has been one of the best seasons for a long time for these lovely table fish.


The beaches are alive with many species moving along the coast. Mullet, bream, whiting and jewfish have been regular captures, while salmon are around in numbers making for easy fishing at night, especially around the full moon.

Expect to encounter whaler and gummy sharks at night, while tailor will keep you entertained between the larger fish.

Fishing from the rocks is similar, with passing schools of salmon, the odd bonito and kingfish and tailor are common. Blackfish and drummer are also frequent, with the occasional blue groper appearing to make things interesting.

A highlight at this time of year is undoubtedly the estuary fishing.

Now the water has warmed throughout the whole of the systems, fishing is good.

The rivers and lakes open to the ocean are producing best.

Flathead have been excellent on bait and lures.

In the systems surrounding Bermagui you can expect most of the estuary species to be on the chew with excellent captures of bream, whiting, luderick and trevally.

A very good tip at this time of year is to try the Bermagui bridge at night.

You can fish adjacent to it form the shore or anchor in a boat under it on an outgoing tide for some spectacular action.

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