Game still on
  |  First Published: June 2010

Narooma’s offshore waters is experiencing some warmer water than usual for this time of year. There has been an array of gamefish species, including black and striped marlin, found in temperatures as warm as 23ºC.

I don’t expect this marlin action to last too much longer, as this warmer pocket of water will move on and be replaced with cooler water around 18-19ºC. The warm water also means it is tuna time and I think this season will last a fare bit longer and may even go well into July.

There’s already been some cracking yellowfin caught with most fish averaging 40kg and more. That’s a decent sized average fish in anyone’s book with possibilities of 90kg high on the cards. Most yellowfin are being caught by drifting cubes down a berley trail, although some crews are having great success trolling larger bibbed minnows. We quite often troll first to locate the fish then revert to cubing once we’ve found them. This method works very well on school fish (30-40kg) with albacore also thrown in. Southern bluefin tuna are also possible if the conditions suit.

Most of this action will happen along the shelf and second drop-off although a lot will depend on prevailing currents, bait activity and water temperatures.

At Montague islands it’s all systems go with kingfish numbers on the increase. These hard fighting brutes are everywhere at the minute, with anglers using jigs, live bait, squid and trolled lures all catching fish. A few locals are comparing it to the old days; fish everywhere and eating anything. Now that’s a huge call I know but if you catch 50 odd kings in a day it must be pretty close to the truth.

This king action should continue for quite a while, as the place is loaded with bait and July always sees some hoodlums roaming the surface chasing sauries.

Mixed in with the kings are big bonito with some of these speedsters nudging 7kg. At that size they certainly know how to pull and are great fun on jig tackle.

Anglers fishing the bottom are getting good results on snapper with most reefs producing. The southwest corner of Montague has fished well, as well as the reefs off Potato Point. The close in reef at Brou in 10m of water is worth a look, even though this little patch isn’t big it holds some fantastic sized snapper at times. Better baits to try are fresh squid, cuttlefish, pilchards and striped tuna strips. Sport fishers casting plastics at snapper will also do well at this spot.

In the estuaries the fishing has remained consistent without being red-hot with the lower sections fishing better at present. The channels from the drop-off to the charter boat wharf in Wagonga Inlet has been the pick for bait anglers with bream, trevally, blackfish and the odd flathead succumbing to fresh baits. Live bass yabbies have worked especially well for trevally but the pickers do get amongst them. I recommend something more robust like slimy mackerel fillets or striped tuna cubes fished with a little berley from an anchored boat.

If using soft plastics in this area go for slimmer stick-baits style profiles, as these will look more like an injured baitfish drifting through the water column. Natural colours in the 70-90mm range are working best.

Further upstream the main basin is alive with tailor, and bag limits have been reached quite easily on most occasions. Casting metal slugs or trolling deeper diving lures will do the trick with fish averaging 40cm and bigger. We’ve caught some monsters there recently when targeting mulloway with a few pushing 70cm in length and bigger ones lost due to bite offs.

These speedsters will remain in the estuaries for the winter term and will be a viable option when all else fails. Even though they have been sporadic if you find a few they are generally of good size. Over the last few weeks, we’ve managed five good fish over 80cm and two over 90cm. Concentrate in water depths of 6-8m around the ribbon weed edges for the crocs.

Anglers after bream are doing it tough, particularly upstream where the water is becoming quite clear. Long accurate casts are needed close to structure with hardbodies fished slow scoring a few fish. Up at Tuross, there’s good estuary perch and bream in the snags with flatties closer to the shallow margins where weed/sand is present. Smaller plastics and blades have accounted for a lot of fish.

On the beaches, salmon continue to do the right thing with most holding plenty. Anglers are catching them using a variety of techniques although bait fishos are faring better. Paternoster rigs with bluebait/popper combination has worked a treat. A few diehards are still casting shiners into the washes and getting plenty but they appear to be on the smaller side. Those using bait have got fish to 3.5kg, at that size they know how to pull on any tackle. This action will only get better over the winter months with XOS tailor also on the cards.

Winter on the stones means drummer and if early indications are anything to go by we’re in for a cracking season. A few locals have done extremely well at both Dalmeny Headland and Mystery Bay rocks mainly using cunjevoi for bait. A no-nonsense approach is required in the tackle department to get these guys away from their rocky home but it’s so much fun.

One can expect a few groper with blackfish available to those using cabbage under a float. A little sand/cabbage berley wont hurt either but remember to only use it sparsely.

Those chasing pelagics shouldn’t have too many problems with salmon, tailor and bonito abundant. Casting metal slugs or whole pilchards on ganged hooks should see the rod bend the right way.

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