The thrill of the hunt
  |  First Published: January 2010

Marlin are majestic animals pursued by us humans for centuries, whether for food or for sport.

I feel the best part of marlin fishing is in the thrill of the hunt.

Whether you fish from a tinny or a luxurious game boat, when someone yells ‘marlin!’ all sorts of emotions take over.

Some people will freeze, unsure what to do, while others will run around the boat in a mad panic. Those who have seen it all before will take in the sight and enjoy the beauty of the fish they pursue.

This is one of the best months for marlin in Bermagui waters, with warm current and plenty of bait all relatively close to port.

The Twelve Mile Reef has striped and black marlin chasing schools of slimy mackerel and striped tuna, while close by over the continental shelf you will find these two species along with blue marlin.

Lures are the best way to pursue marlin; you can cover more water to find concentrations of fish.

Once you have done so, live-baiting or switch-baiting may be preferred methods, especially switch baiting.

This is where the thrill of the chase comes in, by reading signs like birds whirling overhead, nervous baitfish scattering on the surface, seals porpoising as they try to round up a school of bait, or the marlin themselves busting up on a helpless bait school. It’s all adrenalin-rush stuff.

There are a few tuna, mostly stripies that also provide good live bait for marlin with an above-average chance a hammerhead shark may find it first.


Kingfish have been plentiful up at Montague Island, taking jigs and live baits. Most have been just on size (65cm) with an occasional large fish.

There’s plenty for those who like bottom fish with one of the best flathead seasons in a long time. Most have been tigers in 40m-plus, with sandies closer to shore.

Gummy sharks have been welcome flathead by-catch.

There are plenty of blue and jackass morwong over the reefs with snapper, ocean perch and the odd pigfish to keep the interest up.

The rocks and beaches have schools of passing pelagics, mostly salmon, small tuna and kingfish.

Lures cast from the stones are producing well, especially at sunrise. At this time of day you don’t have to catch fish to appreciate the beauty of Bermagui but it does help.

The beaches will mainly have salmon and tailor snapping at lures while bait fishos can also expect plenty of bream, whiting and mullet. At night around full moon jewfish have been showing more regularly along with whaler and gummy sharks.

It has been a great season for bream in the estuaries, particularly those that remain open to the ocean and fresh stocks have moved into these systems.

Most of the other species are there, too, providing plenty of great action and the best action is yet to come – next month.

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