NSW: Merimbula Offshore Fishing
Port of Call - Merimbula Offshore Fishing
Situated on the beautiful Sapphire Coast of southern NSW, Merimbula is a popular holiday destination, particularly for anglers. John Ford investigates.
Where Is Merimbula?
Merimbula is situated on the South Coast of New South Wales, about halfway between Sydney and Melbourne. With its beautiful beaches, lagoons, forests and mountains the place has long been regarded as a superb holiday destination and has been a traditional Mecca for Victorian tourists. It’s a very picturesque place and the town is surrounded by forested hills giving stunning views over the lake system and the bay.
Apart from the Christmas period when you will experience traffic jams and difficulty finding accommodation, the place is generally uncrowded with a laid back lifestyle. Accommodation ranges from the traditional caravan parks to upmarket apartments and houses.
There is a good selection of shops, restaurants and clubs.
The average maximum temperature ranges from 25°C in summer down to 15°C in the winter months. The average minimum temperatures range between 16°C in summer and 5°C during winter.
Merimbula is home to Merimbula Lakes and Big Game Fishing Club with a history going back to 1935. The clubhouse overlooking the lake has its own jetty and weighstation. The club shares its accommodation with the local Coastal Patrol who run a rescue service with their own vessel.
Facilities in Merimbula
Despite the area’s strong reliance on tourism, facilities for boats are limited. A good launching ramp for trailer boats is marred by the low level bridge which must be navigated for access to the ocean. Clearance can be limited to two metres at high tide. Larger boats will find few visitor facilities in the narrow channel. There is no commercial marina but casual berths can be found at the town wharf opposite the hotel or at the club wharf during fishing competitions. Fuel is delivered by truck by appointment.
Access to the harbour is across a bar which has built up in recent months to the extent that it can be a problem a couple of hours either side of low tide although a number of charter boats up to 55 foot use the bar on a daily basis.
Target Species in Merimbula
The gamefishing calendar is controlled by the arrival of the warm East Australian Current in late spring when yellowfin, Albacore and mako sharks make an appearance on the shelf – a trip of around 16 miles. The Merimbula and Tathra Canyons are considered to produce some of the best catches of yellowfin and Albacore on the East Coast of Australia.
Marlin are caught around Christmas and through to June. The fishery is notable in May and June for broadbill and all bar one Australian record have been taken here aboard Rathlin with Capt Bruce Libbis. These records include the All Australian Tackle broadbill at 175kg.
Most marlin caught are striped – the largest at 191.5kg – but reasonable blue can be found when the water temperature is favourable. Other records held here are for porbeagle shark and a 43.6kg wahoo on 15kg.
Bottom fishing is also popular with snapper and morwong in close or tassie trumpeter, ocean perch and jackass morwong at 140m.
Locals have recently been bottom bouncing for blue eye cod and harpooka on the shelf.
Like a lot of places along the East Coast, gamefishing in Merimbula over the last ten years has been affected by long line commercial fishing. Bluefin tuna have been almost completely fished out although there are signs of their return. Similarly yellowfin were in promising numbers last season so it is hoped the coming months will be productive.
Charter Boats in Merimbula
Blue Water Sports
Tournaments in Merimbula
Eden Game Fishing Tournament March 31- April 2
Merimbula Open Game Fishing Tournament April 21 – April 23
Merimbula Broadbill Tournament June 2 – June 3
Getting To Merimbula
Merimbula is one of the only a few towns on the South Coast of NSW to have its own airport. There are daily flights from Sydney and Melbourne. It’s about a six or seven hour drive to Merimbula from Sydney or Melbourne and about three hours from Canberra.