South Coast Magic: Narooma, NSW

Destinations: Narooma, NSW

A recent foray filming and fishing at the famous NSW seaside town of Narooma opened SAMI OMARI’S eyes to the estuary and beachaction on offer down on the South Coast.

ANY mention of the picturesque NSW South Coast township of Narooma conjures up images of oceangoing craft traversing the notorious bar at the mouth of Wagonga Inlet toaccess the fish-rich offshore waters, seeking to do battle with the hardfighting marlin, tuna and sharks the region is renowned for. However, there’smuch more to Narooma than offshore gamefishing with some stunning estuariesalong with a number of rock and beach locations that offer easy access andgreat fishing. When Series III of the Fishing World How-To video clips waspencilled in for this iconic fishing town, my mind started to wander and soonfilled with schemes for various fishing adventures across the region. Whilefilming was the main priority, any downtime would be filled exploring theestuaries and coastline adjacent to Narooma with Jim Harnwell, Patrick Brennanand myself quickly hatching a plan that encompassed a mix of estuary and beachfishing when time allowed.

Sessions in the surf
The first opportunity to fish came during an afternoon session along one of themany beaches located within a short drive from town. Walking onto the beachbrought back many happy memories – the feeling of sand between your toes, therumble of the surf and that vibrantly fresh ozone smell of the sea reminded meof everything I love about beach fishing. Pat kindly brought down a clutch ofsurf gear for us to use and after rummaging through his tackle store I tied ona ganged hook paternoster rig weighted with a pyramid sinker. The location Patsuggested we fish was a gutter running parallel to the beach, flanked by aclear and deep entry point leading out to sea just south of where we werefishing, along with a shallow sand bank directly behind it which spilledfoaming white water into the gutter with every wave.  It was lateafternoon and the tide was rising. As the water rose, any actively feeding fishwould likely enter the gutter and hunt along the deeper water, travelling alongthe length of the gutter to seek out an easy meal that was hiding in theturbulent white water or was displaced by the relentless wave action pummellingthe sand bank. We spread out and fired whole pilchard baits past the shorebreak and into the zone. We didn’t have to wait long before the tell-tale signsof feeding fish were transmitted through the line. Pat was soon leaning into adecent sized tailor to open proceedings.

Jim quickly followed suit with a sizable salmon that slugged it out deep ratherthan taking to the air as they  characteristically do. Before long the actioncame thick and fast as a school of tailor entered the gutter and ravaged ourpilchard baits; constant bites and bent rods became the norm for the afternoon.We kept a few tailor for dinner that night and promptly released everythingelse with the final tally for the afternoon revealing a good haul of salmonlanded, along with more than a dozen hefty choppers in a short but thoroughlyenjoyable session.

The beaches to the north and south of Narooma offer productive beach fishingyear round, with salmon and tailor being the mainstay. Quality jewfish as wellas gummy sharks are also an option, but generally need to be specificallytargeted, usually with slab baits at night.

Wagonga wonderland
Our accommodation at Black Bream Point (see Fact Box for details) was locatedon the banks of the pristine Wagogna Inlet; outside the front door of ourcomfortable house was a lush green hill that gently rolled down to the water’sedge to a convenient jetty and boat ramp for guests to use. We woke thefollowing morning to light rain which hampered our ability to shoot theremaining outdoor clips so a decision was made to explore the inlet by boat andreturn at the first opportunity to resume filming. After launching theboats we motored across the inlet to a series of oyster leases that we hopedwould come to life with the rising tide. The sky was overcast which dimmed themorning light, a moderate breeze and light drizzle ruffled the otherwise smoothwaters – apart from a low barometer, conditions seemed perfect for some topwater lure action. I was fishing with Jim aboard the Fisho Sea Jay tinnywhile Pat was flying solo a short distance away aboard his little Bluefin.

Jim and I both tied on poppers in search of surface feeding black bream,however, after plugging away for an hour or two with only a few half heartedstrikes a different strategy was called for. With the water levels rising wemotored over to a shallow area of sand flat interspersed with patches of weed.It was at this time that Jim tied on a small NW Pencil stickbait in a hideouslyloud yellow and white colour, while I mistakenly persevered with the popper.Part way through the first drift that yellow piece of plastic was nailed andafter a spirited tussle a silver trevally arced its way towards the boat andinto the waiting net. I struggled to get a bite on the popper and was sooncursing when I looked over to see Jim’s rod loaded up again. The clouds of sand in the distance alongwith a number of zippy, headshaking runs confirmed the tell-tale fight of adecent flathead. After easing the fish up to the surface it was quickly scoopedinto the waiting net. With minimal success on top water lures I reached over tomy tackle bag and tied on a soft plastic, eventually settling on a three-inchsingle tail grub in a natural light brown colour to suit the shallowconditions.

It only took a few casts before the plastic started to rouse some interest andafter a couple of missed bites I struck at a timid enquiry to be met withweight on the other end. The fish kept its head down and slugged it out for ashort while before the silvery flanks of a nice bream materialised boatside.After an initial flurry the bite tapered off so another change of tack wassuggested. The water was still relatively high so a concerted effort withpoppers was again planned with Pat leading us towards a few oyster leases andsubmerged rocky shorelines that would hopefully provide some exciting top wateraction.

First cab off the rank was a small tailor forJim which was dragged to the boat and dutifully released. Approaching a likelylooking spot we both fired off casts towards the structure and were met by asmall group of unidentifiable fish lunging towards Jim’s lure.

My popper was attacked in an explosive strikeand thinking it was a better than average tailor I upped the drag to be metwith some solid resistance on the other end. Jim’s fish quickly came to theboat and rather than the small bream we were expecting, a neat 30cm estuaryperch emerged. When my fish initially surfaced we were once againsurprised as the tailor I was being heavy handed with morphed into asubstantial EP. Anxiety levels rose and after mumbling a few choice words Iquickly backed off my drag and allowed the fish to lunge away, unaware how wellthe hooks were set. When the fish finally succumbed our hefty prize was gentlysteered towards the boat and into the net. At 43cm it was my best estuary perchto date and after a few happy snaps it was gently released to terrorise thelocal baitfish population once again. That fish heralded the end of our morningsession in Wagogna with the sky beginning to clear and a break in the weatherallowing us to resume filming.

Back to the beaches
The next free afternoon saw a meeting of the minds with a number of us keen foranother foray along the beaches. Fisho’s Chris Yu had driven down early thatmorning to check on proceedings and decided to tag along as we loaded the carswith beach gear for the short drive towards the surf. Conditions were idealwith a well-formed gutter conveniently located within earshot of where the carswere parked. With five of us fishing in close proximity I grabbed a handful ofbaits and trundled about a hundred or so metres down the beach towards anotherfishy looking gutter. Ten or so minutes quietly passed before I lookedover to see Chris locked in battle and walking backwards to beach what appearedto be a decent salmon. He lifted the fish and pointed it in my direction beforespearing it back into the surf. I quickly rebaited and pelted the loaded pillieover the surf break and into the strike zone. Glancing over once again showedanother bent rod which left me second guessing my decision to stray from thecrowd before a short sharp tap on the end of my line snapped me back toreality. I leaned back and struck instinctively to be met with resistance onthe other end. I was hoping the others would look over to see my beaming smileand bent rod but they were intently focused on the water in front of them andthe decent tailor that was soon landed went unnoticed. I threaded on anotherbait and cast out again to be met with a savage strike almost immediately. Therod came to life and loaded up as line inched off the spool against a modestdrag setting. The heavy sinker muted the initial jump, however, the fishmanaged to clear the water and identified itself as a decent salmon. Afterzigzagging through the surf I eventually managed to turn its head and using theshore break surfed the fish onto the sand and ran down to collect my prize asthe water receded. I quickly released the fish and enjoyed a strike on everysubsequent cast, landing another solid tailor before running out of baits andreturning to the group. The rising tide brought with it a steady procession ofdecent tailor and the occasional salmon while Chris managed to land a heftybream that was lightly coloured and glimmered in the afternoon sun. The bitetapered off sharply as the tide peaked and with the sun having set we made ourway back across the dunes in the dark to head for home.

Time in Tuross
With the filming finally complete, Pat, Jim and myself decided to hit the roadand travel north to Tuross Lake for a day spentprospecting the lower reaches of the estuary. After launching the boat wemotored a short distance to a fishy looking flat positioned out of the mainbody of current. The electric was deployed with Pat and myself opting to fishpoppers while Jim again produced that dreaded yellow NW Pencil. The Pencilreigned supreme with Jim landing a whiting and bream while my poppers remaineduntouched.

The recent low pressure system appeared to haveadversely affected flats fishing with heavy rain causing a slightdiscolouration in the water and undoubtedly making the task at hand all themore challenging. We briefly ventured over to a set of racks where we sightfished to a couple of bream that were not overly interested in our offerings. Asmall but brazen fish slurped my popper off the surface after I optimisticallycast well past the racks and into dangerous territory.With a locked drag thefish was skated over the racks and quickly unhooked. With the tide havingturned we took a short break and motored up to the waterfront eateries for aquick bite and council of war, returning to the water to fish a couple ofdeeper spots near the mouth of the estuary with the falling tide. I tied on afour-inch plastic and had a couple of rattling bites before coming tight to anaverage sized silver trevally that put up a lively fight before being released.As the day wore on Pat managed to find a couple of flounder that took a likingto his blade fished along the deeper stretches while Jim reverted back to hislittle yellow Pencil, landing a couple of nice whiting over the flats, beforewe called it a day.

The last hoorah
Returning from Tuross, Pat and I decided to quickly load the beach gear into mycar and drive down for another afternoon in the surf while Jim stayed back atthe house to do some work. With another angler claiming the best looking gutterwe wandered down the beach and settled on another likely looking formation. Bythis stage the sky had quickly darkened and storm clouds ominously gatheringoverhead. With rain imminent our window of opportunity was short, given thestate of the tide. We managed a few fish each, however, the impending storm andhigh water level flooding the gutter dampened what may have otherwise been aproductive session. With rain setting in and the tide nearing its peak we cutour losses and had an eventful drive home with my trusty sedan strugglingthrough the slippery grass and mud before eventually making its way through.

I woke early the next morning to hit the road for the five-hour drive back to Sydney while Jim and Patheaded out for a morning session poppering Wagonga’s flats before they, too,packed up and headed off. I later found out the boys had a blinder, catchingmultiple quality bream and more than a few flatties and whiting – all onsurface lures. Jim persisted with that damned NW Pencil and later told me abouta small bream he hooked being chased down by an 80cm+ flathead. Exciting visualfishing in the clear, shallow water.

At the time, however, I knew nothing of all this action. But I was happyenough. The lush countryside which characterised the drive home uplifted mymood and I soon found myself recounting wonderful memories of the turquoisecoloured water that greets you when first enter Narooma, of pristine beachesand fun afternoons fishing productive estuaries. All this will no doubt lure meback in future.

Fisho filmed and fished at Narooma courtesy ofEurobodalla Tourism. Check out the various How-To vids we filmed around Naroomaat

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