How to

LBG Fishing The Tubes

OUR planet is littered with iconic fishing locations that are renown for outstanding fishing. The Cairns mega marlin fishery. Florida’s flats and tarpon fishing. Hawaii’s blue marlin fishing. Nova Scotia’s bluefin fishery. There are many more and the one thing they all share is a long history of amazing and record breaking captures over many decades. Fishing folklore is written around these places and the fish they produce. Australia has no shortage of iconic fishing locations but most of these all involve fishing from a boat.

To find a land based fishing location that consistently produces mind blowing captures is very unique. Land based game fishos are a very rare and dedicated breed of angler. As the name suggests, they target gamefish from land based rock platforms and breakwalls.

NSW is probably the most popular state for land based game with the northern platforms producing longtail tuna, cobia and Spanish mackerel. However, it is southern NSW where the best land based game fishing occurs. There are numerous suitable rock platforms in southern NSW where gamefish can be caught but the Currarong peninsular east of Nowra really is the mecca of LBG and has been for six decades.

There are several factors that make the Currarong peninsular such a productive gamefish location. It runs out well east of any other piece of coastline in the area and that puts it right in line with the East Coast Current that brings warm water and marlin down from up north every summer. It also has an abundance of deep water and baitfish in the region which makes it the perfect location to target large gamefish from the rocks. But, and it’s a big but, fishing this area is not all beer and skittles.

The peninsular sits on the northern headland to the entrance of Jervis Bay. The southern side of Jervis Bay is a small pocket of Australian Capital Territory (ACT) within NSW. It is home to HMAS Creswell, a navy base that educates and trains Naval officers and is also frequently visited by Australian war ships. Those warships are often involved in target practice and manoeuvres and it’s nothing for them to sit 30 kilometres east of Point Perpendicular and lob blank artillery onto the Currarong peninsular. That makes the entire area, apart from the small township of Currarong, an artillery range. When it is being used, no civilian access is allowed which means it is closed to the public for safety and security reasons. The entire area is littered with old cars and buses that were used for target practice when HMAS Albatross, west of Nowra, housed a fixed wing fleet of aircraft.

Years ago, before security gates were installed, it was nothing for a navy boat to work its way along the coastline and tell rock fishermen to pack up and leave as bombing would be commencing. I can remember fishing The Tubes one day in the late ‘70s while aircraft came straight over the top of us and fired rounds into the targets only a few kilometres away. I also remember living in Greenwell Point and on a quiet night hearing shells land
on the peninsular as a warship sat wide out to sea fired heavy artillery.

Pic: Lani Kondrackas

PIC: Lani Kondrackas

The actual Torpedo Tubes were installed during the Second World War when Australia’s east coast was vulnerable to attack from the Japanese. They had managed to infiltrate Sydney harbour with mini submarines and Jervis Bay’s deep water and isolation was the perfect location to launch a land attack from sea. As such the Australian Navy installed two torpedo tubes just inside Jervis Bay and another two a kilometres further inside. All four point at the entrance and the aim was to fire torpedoes at any approaching enemy vessel.

There was also a large gun turret installed on Bowen Island at the southern entrance. Fortunately none of that weaponry was required for the duration of the war but the torpedo tubes were never removed and have slowly rusted to just the bases and concrete plinths these days. I can remember guys actually sleeping inside the tubes back in the ‘70s and ‘80s and doors being on the them.

RELATED: Longtails from The Tubes

The actual Tubes platform is relatively small and covers about 50 metres in length. There’s a low spinning ledge at the northern end and a higher platform at the southern end. Thirty metres further south is Eddies Rock that can also be fished. The water is around 10 metres deep and you can see the bottom but it runs out to 30 metres deep within casting distance.

To access The Tubes you have to take the Lighthouse Road just before you reach the township of Currarong. That’s a 7 kilometre drive along an unsealed and corrugated road and only if the gates are open and public access is allowed. Then it’s a one kilometre walk down to The Tubes. The track is a lot better now than it was 30 years ago and there’s even aluminium stairs down the last bit which was always a rock climb.

I first fished The Tubes in the mid 1970s. My land based game journey was about 12 months in the making and we’d heard all about Currarong from fellow LBG anglers we fished with at Whale Beach and Pretty Beach so the decision was made to have a look at what all the fuss was about.

We fished there with a bunch of young guys from Warringah Anglers who we met at Whale Beach. I’ve forgotten some of the names these days but I do remember Mark and Brett Deeney, Simon Cassatari, Allan Sutton, Dave Lindfield, Mike James, Charlie Vella and Rob Wiley. Back in the mid to late ‘70s The Tubes produced marlin in summer and yellowfin tuna in autumn. Our gear was very basic compared to these days. The most popular reel was the Penn Senator star drag and we fished 10 or 15 kilo mono over a range of makeshift rods. We eventually evolved to using lever drag Penn Internationals or Everol’s and Sabre or extended Iron Glass blanks with roller tips.

As you would expect, hooking yellowfin tuna from the rocks on star drag reels and 10 or 15 kilo tackle led to numerous hard luck stories. Fish up to 30 kilos were possible but 60 to 90 kilo fish were way too much for 15 kilo gear. That’s when some guys upgraded to 24 kilo tackle and some big yellowfin (and marlin) were landed. As the tackle was upsized so were the baits. Yakkas and slimies were replaced with live frigates on heavier traces and bigger hooks. That was around the mid 80’s from memory and just about when the yellowfin fishery ceased due to heavy commercial fishing. Prior to that some very big yellowfin were hooked and lost or landed from several Currarong ledges. The big advantage The Tubes had was that it could be fished in fairy large seas.

Pic: Elspeth Finney

One of the pioneers of 24 kilo tackle and live frigates was Bobby Russo who sadly passed away in September 2020. Bobby was quite the character in his day and usually fished in just a pair of budgie smugglers and a racoon skin cap. He moved from Sydney down to Callala Beach to be closer to LBG Mecca and just about lived out at The Tubes and Devils Gorge. He fished with Ron “Jock” Bridges and Dave Maine and some of the stories they could recall were mind blowing. Huge tuna and marlin lost and landed and hours long fights that ended in heartache. They were real characters and considered The Tubes their territory. It was nothing for them to let down other people’s livebait pools or even spray Aeroguard in them to kill their livies. Heaven help anyone who drifted a livie out near theirs and caused a tangle.

Angler comradery is a big part of LBG. Everyone knew each other when I fished there 40 years ago and nothing has changed now. There’s a definite clique of anglers who fish The Tubes these days. They all know each other and are quick to help out when required. It takes some time to be accepted but if you put in the effort and fish hard you’ll be made welcome and join a very dedicated group of anglers.

I fished The Tubes on and off for 15 years and the faces changed over that period but you were always in good company with people whose passion was chasing big fish from the rocks. If anyone turned up and had forgotten to pack something essential, there was always someone willing to lend a hand or some gear to help out. Sitting around with a livebait in the water waiting for it to get eaten always gave everyone a good opportunity to form friendships and share fishing stories.

I’ve got a heap of Tubes stories. My son in law actually proposed to my daughter down there. They spent a lot of time fishing The Tubes before they had children and Ryan finally caught a 120 kilo marlin there on 24 kilo tackle in 2016. I saw four yellowfin tuna to 30 kilos landed there in one day in the late ‘70’s and 10 marlin hooked there on a February day in 1991. 1991 was an exceptional marlin season. I landed three that year including a 25 kilo fish on 8 kilo tackle. Phil Atkinson and Grantley Grey filmed a lot of that season and put in on a DVD titled Marlin From the Rocks. It really is essential viewing for any aspiring LBG anglers.

To this day The Tubes is still producing some catches that just seem almost impossible. 2023 saw Josh Morgera land a broadbill swordfish and Andre Stamoulos land a 60 kilo southern bluefin tuna. Both of those captures just defy all the rules that such gamefish could be hooked and captured from a rock platform. Another major feat in 2023 was Kyle Lack’s 176 Kilo marlin caught in February. As far as I know that’s the heaviest marlin ever landed at The Tubes and probably anywhere else in the world from the shore. On a good day, fishing The Tubes can be like chasing gamefish out on the Continental Shelf. When the right water is trickling into Jervis Bay just about anything is possible and this includes marlin and various tuna species. The past several seasons have seen the return of longtail tuna and a heap of them were landed on live baits and lures in March and April this year.

As you can imagine, The Tubes does get heavily fished over summer and autumn. Access can be difficult at times due to Defence Force operations so when it’s open there are a heap of anglers down there tossing lures and soaking live baits. Summer is marlin time, autumn is longtail and kingfish time but there are also some big kingfish there over the winter months. I caught a 27 kilo model in the ’90s out of a boat just 100 metres from The Tubes one winter. There have been several sailfish caught there over the years which just goes to show that completely unexpected captures are on the cards at any time of the year. It’s just that sort of place although you have to understand that a lot of live baits and lures are fished off it every year. It would be safe to say that it’s probably the most popular and amazing LBG location on the planet. To be there with 30 other anglers on a good day is a mind blowing experience that all LBG anglers should enjoy at least once.

I mentioned the camaraderie of LBG anglers and when I started writing this piece I contacted several of the current Tubes anglers who are doing what I did 40 years ago. I needed some more recent photos of their fish to go with my shots from the ‘70s to ‘90s. Everyone I spoke to was more than happy to share their photos and experiences. As such I would like to thank Lani Kondracas, Kyle Lack, Brett Rushton, Josh Morgera, Shaun Corbett, Vaughn Little and Andre Stamoulos. Thank you all for helping when I reached out and may you all enjoy many more years making memories at the very special place known as The Torpedo Tubes.

Pic: Brett Rushton

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