The annual whale migration is the main attraction offshore as scores of humpbacks travel the whale highway as they swim north to Queensland to breed. It is estimated that some 25,000 to 30,000 whales pass our coast on this annual migration. Figures reported by Sydney news media place whale watching and associated tourism as a $30 million industry. As we now know that humpback whales feed on pilchards during their migration so it is difficult to understand the federal government’s (AFMA) recent 500 per cent increase in the eastern pilchard quota.
Merimbula’s annual game fishing event; the 37th Merimbula Open Yellowfin Tournament was run over the long weekend. With multiple albacore tag and release in perfect weather conditions confirmed as a great success although none of the 24 boats entered were able to find the elusive yellowfin.
At time of writing congratulations to event organiser Robert Wood whose boat “Snappy Tom” won the Shark Capture section of the competition with a 152.50kg mako by Jamie Cutler. Happiest anglers were the juniors who made hay with excellent albacore and striped tuna tag and release action. From “Reel Gem”; brother and sister Jack and Jemma Pollock were tied on points. Leading tag and release anglers were from “Out For” captained by Dylan Smith on 25,925 points. A fairly rare catch – a short billed spearfish was tagged and released by Al Toscano in “Mugsy”.
Good quality snapper are available along our reef areas with early morning and evening prime fishing times. Off the reef edges good catches can be made using a ball sinker right down at the hook with fish baits such as slimy mackerel and pilchard as well as squid heads bringing great returns.
Some magnificent morwong have also shown up and they like the same baits using ‘Snapper Flasher’ paternoster rigs.
Up north past Tathra, chinamen leatherjackets have moved in with a vengeance over the flathead grounds and it has become almost impossible to get our gear to the bottom where the flathead are quite voracious.
So far off Merimbula and to the south there are only a few chinamen. Ocean flathead can be taken off Long Point at 25 fathoms and remain on the chew at the usual spots off Bournda Island and Tura Headland.
Some quite large slimy mackerel have been taken at the Merimbula Fishing Platform as well as a few calamari squid. Locals and visitors are keenly waiting for big kingfish to visit.
Dusky flathead as well as trevally, tailor and bream remain on the chew in all our estuaries but the waters are cooling as winter sets in and before much longer estuary fish will be a lot harder to catch.