Where to Fish on the South Coast of NSW
Bermagui River is the most accessible estuary system to Bermagui based Anglers. Situated right across the road from Bermagui Bait and Tackle ‘The River’ as it is locally known offers easy angling opportunities for both shore and boat fishers. A relatively shallow estuary, it is navigable for around 5kms, though the upper reaches are difficult for vessels larger than 14ft to traverse at low tide. Channels and deeper sections are easy to identify as the river runs very clear for most of the time. The first kilometre or two from the river mouth are generally the best for fishing and are accessed by two, three lane concrete boat ramps, one of which is directly opposite Bermagui Bait and Tackle.
As a general rule, the run out tide is best for most types of fishing in Bermagui River possibly except in the Boat Harbour near the mouth where fantastic fishing is available for all ages and skill levels amongst the moored boats- a high tide produces better results in the harbour.
Species present in the river include Dusky Flathead, Sand Whiting, Yellowfin Bream, Silver Trevally, Luderick, Tailor, Mullet and Garfish. Flathead and whiting predominate the warmer summer months whereas Bream, Trevally and Blackfish are more regular catches in the cooler water later in the year.
Night fishing around the harbour and near the Bridge are popular and successful year round for most species. All basic forms of fishing are successful at times in the river with best methods varying seasonally. Contact the Bermagui Bait and Tackle crew for up to date information on what’s happening and where. Bermagui River is a declared recreational fishing haven and is free of all commercial fishing.
Located approximately 10kms north of Bermagui, Wallaga Lake is a very large diverse system of shallow channels, deep open expanses and tree lined bays. A favourite with visitors and locals Wallaga is prone to long periods of closure to the ocean due to its narrow river mouth and large areas of sand on the ocean side. Access to the waters or ‘The Lake’ is via Boat Ramps at Fairhaven and Beauty Point- small communities on the Lake foreshore.
The majority of the open areas in the Lake are quite deep (up to 10m) so large vessels are more suited to Wallaga than the Bermagui River or the other smaller systems around Bermagui. The summer tourist season also attracts many water skiers to Wallaga due to its wide open basins.
Dusky Flathead tend to be the main target species in the warmer months while Tailor, Bream and Snapper tend to be a popular winter targets. Many other species are present in Wallaga especially when the Lake is open to the ocean. Care must be taken in rough weather when boating on Wallaga Lake as it is very exposed and cuts up badly in high winds. It is also worth noting that Wallaga is part of the Bateman's Marine Park with various closed areas and restrictions present. Maps detailing these are available at Bermagui Bait and Tackle as is all the tackle and advice you need for fishing in Wallaga.
Wagonga Inlet enters the ocean at Narooma, half an hours drive north of Bermagui. A highly tidal, deep water estuary Wagonga is a water sport Mecca and is justifiably popular with visitors and locals. Shadowed by Gulaga Mountain, Wagonga offers excellent visibility and is serviced by three well maintained boat ramps, which during peak seasons are all well patronised.
A day trip to Wagonga is well worth it when staying in Bermagui and the drive is easy and pleasant. Wagonga is famous for its deep water fishing for Jewfish (Mulloway) and oversized Flathead. Understandably, these two species occupy the majority of the angling effort and the rewards are well worth it. Many other species are present- Wagonga has a very diverse ecosystem owing to its large size and deepwater, with everything from the usual estuary fish to the occasional offshore and even tropical species turning up seasonally. Wagonga Inlet is also part of the Bateman's Marine Park and restrictions must be adhered to (on the available maps)
Tuross River/ Lake
Another famous tourist destination, Tuross is located just off the Princes Highway about 45 minutes drive north of Bermagui. A huge river/ estuary system Tuross stretches far inland with drainage of the Great Dividing Range. The massive tidal lake systems dotted with numerous bays and islands is fed by a magnificent freshwater river, popular in its own right for its fantastic fishing.
Boat ramps are located in the Tuross township and also at the highway road Bridge north of Bodalla and offer easy boat launching. Care must be taken navigating the River and the Lake with many submerged sandbanks and rock bars and also because of the estuary immense size. Species targeted include Mulloway, Flathead, Whiting, Bream, Estuary Perch and in the freshwater sections of the Lake, Australian Bass. Tuross is an easy day trip from Bermagui and the rich diversity of habitat and fishing available make it worth visiting. The whole system is a declared Recreational Fishing Haven and no commercial effort occurs within its waters.
Bega River/ Mogareeka Inlet
Bega River enters the ocean via Mogareeka Inlet on the coast just north of Tathra. Tathra is about 40kms south of Bermagui on a scenic drive over the sealed coast road. A lengthy but reasonably narrow and windy system, Bega River is navigable quite a distance depending on freshwater flows upstream of the tidal influence, which extends 5kms or so inland from the Bridge.
Bega River is also prone to long periods of being landlocked- therefore no tidal influences. A good boat ramp with ample parking and amenities is located on the northwest side of the road bridge 3kms north of the Tathra township, about 30 minutes drive from Bermagui. A Recreational Fishing Haven for over 5 years, Bega River is produced excellent results now commercial effort has been eliminated.
The system contains all major southern estuary species and is a stronghold for Australian Bass and Estuary Perch and Dusky Flathead. All months of the year will produce results, however, the Bega River is most productive during the warmer parts of the year.
There are numerous small estuary systems within an hours drive north and south of Bermagui and they are all not without their charms. Many of these systems are very shallow and most do not have any launching facilities or amenities and are suitable only for very small craft and paddle powered vessels.
During periods of dry weather, most of these lakes are landlocked for lengthy periods and the water temperature fluctuated quicker than tidal influenced systems making fishing productivity erratic, through occasional very successful. The small estuaries in the Bermagui region are home to all manner of southern species and sporadically more temperate for tropical species depending on water temperatures. These small systems are quite fragile and very susceptible to fishing pressure- many are still commercially exploited, so tread lightly, limit your kill don’t kill your limit and enjoy the experience.
Although fairly limited there is scope for some freshwater fishing around Bermagui. The upper reaches of the Tuross and Bega Rivers offer fine Bass fishing for the intrepid angler. Every year, many superb specimens are caught and released in these systems, with surface fishing through the summer months a favourite with many.
An easier option for the visiting fisho is Brogo Dam, situated about 40 minutes drive south west on the Princes Highway toward the town of Bega. From the highway, turn off take the Warrigal Range Road 15 minutes inland to the Brogo Dam wall. At the wall, there is a concrete boat ramp and parking area. Brogo is very spectacular, particularly when at high capacity, with large mountains, gorges and thick bush surrounding its shorelines.
The Bass are mainly small with the occasional large fish, though are very voracious and willingly strike lures and flys during the summer months. Speed restrictions apply on the dam and care must be taken when the dam is at low water levels to avoid being submerged boulders and snags.