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Fishing in Merimbula

Merimbula may be a small town, but it’s got a big heart. And it’s a place that’s very well set-up to visit, despite its small population. With its own airport, sandy beaches to die for, and unspoilt nature, it’s no wonder thousands of people visit this part of NSW every year. Take a look at the waterways surrounding the town, and you’ll notice most of these visitors turning up with a fishing rod in hand, too. Luckily for those who had to leave their gear at home, Merimbula fishing charters are poised and ready with everything you need to enjoy this wonderful fishery. Hop on and enjoy!

Known for

The “Heart of the Sapphire Coast”, Merimbula is located in the south of New South Wales. The town boundaries decorate the coastline of the enormous Merimbula Lake, a vast estuary that’s famous for its unique ecology. Out to sea, the continental shelf drops just 25 km (16 miles) from the coast, while the East Australian Current (EAC) brings Sharks, whales, and world-class game fish close to the town itself. Inland, the town is right on the doorstep of some of Australia’s best regarded national parks, including the unspoiled Bournda National Park. When it comes to fishing, all of this means that whatever type of angler you are, you’ll find something for you here. 


Home to swathes of oyster farms and visited by an array of bird and sea life, the warm, shallow waters of Merimbula Lake are an angler’s dream. The sand and gravel of the bay and various inshore structures makes for one of the best places to catch Gummy Sharks and Flathead in the whole of NSW. Meanwhile, Merimbula’s famous beaches offer good surf fishing for Tailor, Mulloway, Kahawai, and Sharks. There’s a good boat ramp at the south of the lake near the causeway, which will allow you to travel upstream to fish the lake, under the causeway to the bottom lake, or across the bar and into the ocean beyond. 


You don’t need to go far from the coast to get stuck in with Merimbula’s excellent bottom fishing. Hunter Reef is a staple of the Merimbula fishing scene—located a short distance from Haycock Point, it’s home to enormous Yellowtail Kingfish (reaching 20 kg/45 lbs) and good quantities of Snapper. Keep going south, and you’ll find pinnacles and reefs such as the Horseshoe Reef housing colourful bottom fish like Tasmanian Trumpeter, Pearl Perch, Snapper, and Morwong. These are all easily accessible on a half day trip.


Big game is what draws most anglers to Merimbula, and for good reason. This part of the NSW coastline is famous for its proximity to bluewater and the EAC, which draws nutrient-rich waters and a whole spectrum of marine life close to shore all year round. Merimbula deep sea charters target Yellowfin and Southern Bluefin Tuna, as well as Blue, Black, and Striped Marlin, all within 25 km of the coast. Take a longer trip down to Green Cape, and you’ll be fishing right over the point where the EAC meets colder waters coming from the south. This is the first place in the state to see Bluefin Tuna on their annual migration. 

Fishing techniques

If you want to bag a tasty Snapper, Bream, or Morwong, most captains will recommend bottom bouncing with oily bait such as pilchards. While you’re there, up the workout potential by jigging for Yellowtail Kingfish and Trevallies. 
When it comes to big game fishing, local anglers tend to lean towards live bait over lures. Slimy mackerel is a popular choice, as is skipjack tuna. Slow trolling with bait will give you a chance to catch all three species of Marlin, Wahoo, Yellowfin Tuna, and Mahi Mahi, among many others. Running a berley trail while trolling is a Shark magnet, with Makos and more coming in to take the bait. Usually, the intended target with this technique is Yellowfin Tuna, but you can’t begrudge a Mako for its amazing fighting abilities.  

Need to know


Half day reef fishing trips cost around $100-130 AUD per person on a shared charter and roughly $1000 to hire a boat. Full days start around $220 per person on shared trips or $1300 for the boat and may include deep dropping over the edge of the continental shelf or targeting a specific species such as Yellowtail Kingfish. Big game fishing charters targeting Marlin and Tuna tend to cost around $1600-$2000 for the boat for a full day on the water. 

Rules and regulations

You need a fishing license to fish in both fresh and saltwater in NSW. These can be purchased online. If you’re in on a fishing charter, then this will be covered for you under the skipper’s own charter license. It is not allowed to fillet fish until well away from the water or at a designated fish cleaning station. Many species are subject to length restrictions and bag limits.

Get there

Merimbula is easily accessible by plane from Melbourne and Sydney. The airport is just 3 km (under 2 miles) from the town centre. By car, it’s a 7 hour drive from Melbourne, 6 hours from Sydney, and 3 hours from Canberra. Then all you have to do is get out on the water!
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Merimbula Fishing Seasons

Welcome to the New Year. Blue, Black, and Striped Marlin are all biting — will your new year’s resolution be to catch all three? Back on land, don’t miss the ‘float’ from the Causeway to Spencer Park on Australia Day.
Crazy as it sounds, February means even better game fishing than the previous month. This is prime time to troll for Marlin with live bait. Over the reefs, look for anything from Leatherjacket to Tasmanian Trumpeter. 
Marlin fishing is still on top form in Merimbula in March. Head out to the continental shelf and the deep reefs and see what you will find! Back on land, enjoy the autumn colours in the beautiful national parks.

As the season transitions, so does the fishing. Autumn brings Yellowfin Tuna with it—usually, they start to arrive towards the end of this month. Some Marlin are still about, but catches are becoming less common. 

May is when the larger Yellowfin start to make their way past Merimbula’s coastline. Get ready to hook a 60+kg (132 lbs) monster! If reef fishing’s more your thing, don’t miss the Merimbula Snapper Classic. 
It's winter, but that doesn’t stop anglers from coming to Merimbula. This month, they’re here for the Merimbula Open Fishing Tournament, targeting Tuna and Marlin. On land, don’t miss the annual Jazz Festival. 
Tournament season continues, and tnow it’s time for the Merimbula Big Game and Lakes Angling Club Broadbill & Southern Bluefin Tournament. Whether you’re competing or not, you’ll want to get in on the Tuna action. 
August is the tail end of the Southern Bluefin Tuna season — you may still be lucky, but it all depends on the water temperature. The good news is, there’s also a chance of some early Yellowfin and and Albacore Tuna instead.
The talk of the town in September is the arrival of the humpback whales on their annual southerly migration. This is the perfect time to fish if you want to get up close and personal to these gentle giants. 
As warmer springtime currents start to arrive in the middle of October, the variety of game fish heats up for real. Merimbula fishing charters are targeting Yellowfin Tuna, Albacore, Wahoo, Marlin, and Mahi Mahi.
This is your last chance to see whales on your fishing trip, but that doesn’t stop people getting out on the water. Deep sea fishing is getting better and better, while catches over the reefs are as consistent as ever. 
Peak tourist season hits Merimbula. Make sure to book your accommodation—and your fishing charter—well in advance. With Marlin, Mahi Mahi, and Yellowfin Tuna up for grabs, you don’t want to miss out!

Merimbula Fishing Calendar

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Reviews of Fishing in Merimbula

No fish but a great day
Colin B. fished with Rathlin Charters on February 27, 2019
Fish with Rathlin, we certainly will again
Half day trip with my.son, great experience Captain Craig a d first mate Sam were very friendly and informative. Overall fantastic day with my son.
Jean-pierre D. P. fished with Rathlin Charters on January 20, 2019
Rathlin Charters I would definitely recommend for first timers like myself and son. Would suggest listen to your Captain and first mate, they have done this many times.
Fishing with Phillip
Shane T. fished with Reel Affair Fishing Charters on January 3, 2019
In Merimbula there is many places to go to fish two locals a very friendly to talk to and find out good spots to go I think it's an experience for the whole family not just yourself you don't have to go on a boat to experience good fishing in Merimbula just ask around
Very enjoyable morning. Couldn’t have asked for more. Thank you guys.
Geoff L. fished with Rathlin Charters on April 24, 2018
Go and enjoy yourself and the boys will look after you
Half Day Trip with Rathlin Chartes II
John C. fished with Rathlin Charters on April 16, 2017
Shore and boat. Shallow and deep sea. Raithlin II charter very good.

Top Targeted Species in Merimbula