For this Beginners Guide I’ll start at a small coastal hamlet located about 30 minutes south of Ulladulla and 30 minutes north of Batemans Bay, called Bawley Point. Bawley Point is located in the Shoalhaven region of the South Coast of NSW, strategically located between the Murramarang National Park, Morton National Park, the Meroo National Park and the Kioloa State Forest.
Travelling south from Bawley Point for around 8km you’ll find yourself at Pretty Beach in the Murramarang National Park, and travelling to the north for around 15km you’ll find yourself at Lake Tabourie. Whether you are looking to fish off the beach for whiting, bream, salmon and tailor or want to cast a line in one of the many rock washes for trevally, drummer, snapper, bream, tailor and salmon, this stretch of coastline has it all.
If the beach and rocks are not your cup of tea you could always try chasing a few dusky flathead, bream, luderick, mullet, garfish and prawns in Lake Tabourie. Even though Meroo Lake is a much smaller waterway, it can hold good numbers of bream, luderick, mullet and garfish at times.
Wairo Beach is a 5km long, exposed beach backed by dunes reaching up to 30m high and extending a few hundred metres inland towards the Pacific Highway. This beach runs south until you reach the northern side of Crompton Island. The beach can be accessed in the centre via fenced walkways over the dunes from a caravan park and from the highway, and in the south where a 1km long park occupies the area between the beach and the narrow channel, connecting Tabourie Lake with the sea.
The lake usually enters, but is not always open across the southern end of the beach, with the beach continuing on past the lake entrance as a low spit to Crampton Island. Salmon, tailor, bream, whiting and the odd trevally can be caught from this beach. Try using whole or half pilchards, strips of mullet or beach worms for the best results.
The township of Lake Tabourie is situated at the back of a few sand dunes and surrounds the lake itself. Even though this particular lake is fairly shallow it at times can hold good numbers of bream, flathead, luderick, mullet and garfish.
For those of you who don’t have access to a small tinny or a kayak there are a number of places where you can cast a line from the shore. All you need to do to find one of these spots is drive around the streets and keep an idea of where the water is. Once you spot a clearing you just hop out of your car and see if you can get a line in from there.
Kayaking seems to be the best mode of transport on the lake. You could try casting soft plastics and hardbodied lures along the shoreline for bream and flathead, or live baiting with poddy mullet. Prawning improves with each ‘dark’ between November and February.
It’s a fair hike from the car park out to the island itself so you’ll need to prepare yourself for a long walk, but believe me, the distance is worth it. From the island itself you can target snapper, tailor, salmon, bream, trevally, leatherjackets, luderick and drummer.
You will need to take in all your bait and bring all your rubbish back out with you. The last time I ventured out to the island I took two blocks of pilchards, 1kg of either Hawkesbury River or blue tailed prawns, a couple of slabs of mullet and salted tuna.
If you like targeting luderick you can harvest cabbage and green weed here, but I recommend bringing some of your own as it’s a long walk back if you get out there and there is none to get. Live yellowtail and slimy mackerel can be berleyed up on the southern side of the island.
I have fished Lake Tabourie a few times and generally it can be a pretty hard place to fish, but there have been occasions when I have managed to get bream, flathead, mullet and garfish. The lake will definitely fish better when it has been opened to the sea. This lake is very shallow with sporadic access to the ocean so the size of fish can be below average. The best way to get around there is in a kayak. This will enable you to work the shoreline with shallow hardbodied lures and lightly weighted soft plastics.
One spot I used to have a lot of success on was on the southwest side of the highway bridge. At sunset with nippers and fresh worms some sizeable bream were around (biggest went 45cm). Make sure you fish light as possible, as the water without current can be very clear and the fish are liable to be very finicky. You could also try with fly hooks, dough and floats for the many garfish and mullet that are found in the lake.
Even though this is a very small lake it can at times produce good catches of bream, flathead, mullet and garfish. For the best results you will need to use either beach worms or pink nippers. There are not a lot of land-based spots so I would prefer to fish out of a kayak.
Meroo Lake is definitely a kayak lake as it is very shallow. I have found that over the year shallow running hardbodied lures and lightly weighted soft plastics are the go. During the summer months the bream fishing can be explosive. This lake is situated in the National Park and some of the land is also privately owned so you will need to get permission to get in through the properties to fish it.
Walk-in camping is permitted at the Meroo Head picturesque camping area, just moments from the beach. The unsealed road through the forest to get here also makes it a great mountain biking destination.
Just a 150m walk from the campsite and you’ll step onto a beautiful sandy beach where you can enjoy swimming, snorkelling, surfing, fishing, beach walking and exploring the rock pools. Go exploring around up to Meroo Head Lookout for some amazing coastal views. If you are feeling energetic you could then enjoy a short walk south to Meroo Beach and Nuggan Point.
The beaches on either side of Meroo Point are known for salmon, tailor, bream and mulloway. My best fishing experiences in this area have been a couple of hours before the sun sets and the first two hours of the sunrise. A couple of years ago the lake at Meroo burst its banks after a week of heavy rain and literally thousands of prawns flowed out of the lake. The four days the lake stayed open was sensational fishing off the beach.
Bawley Beach is a slightly curving 270m long beach wedged between Willinga and the larger Bawley Point, which extends 1 km east and provides some protection from southerly waves. The beach faces northeast with waves averaging about 1m, which maintain a usually continuous low tide terrace, with a rip only forming against the northern rocks during higher seas. To do any good from this beach you will need to have either live beach worms, pipis or nippers. Whiting and bream can be caught here at night.
The jetty ruins remain, next to a large car park with small boat access onto the southern corner of the beach adjacent to a large rock. A second car park, park and picnic area and a small dune lie immediately behind the beach, which is backed by the Bawley Point community.
The Gantry produces bream, salmon, tailor, trevally, luderick and the odd whiting or two following big seas and blow. Care needs to be taken when fishing from here even though the platform is fairly high off the water’s surface.
Care needs to be taken whenever you are fishing from this point as the rocks that lead to the water can at times be extremely slippery. Also as this is a very exposed point the swells do jump up out of the water so it’s best fished during calm seas. Salmon, tailor, snapper, luderick, bream, trevally, drummer, squid and bonito can be caught here year round.
The Bawley Point shopping centre caters for all your basic holiday needs. There is Bawley Beach Café for great pizza and pasta, Liquor Bar, Village Take Away, Newsagency Bawley Point and Post Office, Bawley Bakehouse, IGA Supermarket, Bawley Point Friendly Grocer and a PG Hardware, where you can purchase bait and tackle, gas refills and fishing licences.
I have found that this beach works the best after there has been a bit of a sea. Bream and whiting are the mainstay of this beach. Beach worms, pink nippers and pipis are the go for bait. You could try at night with a whole pilchard on ganged hooks for a salmon or tailor.
Very much the same as Bawley Point, only that the water depth out the front is a little bit deeper.
This is a broad, flat beach that has a headland at either end. I fished here with a group of anglers a few years back at high tide when the seas were as flat as a billiard table and we managed to catch tailor, salmon, bream, whiting and a couple of shovel-nosed rays. All were caught on either whole or half pilchards.
The village of Kioloa, 6km south of Bawley Point, is home to the Edith and Joy London Foundation Kioloa Coastal Campus of the Australian National University. This field station provides simple accommodation and laboratory facilities for instruction and research in the field sciences. The Edith and Joy London walking track passes through part of the Murramarang Aboriginal Area and down to the shoreline.
In 2006 the NSW government gazetted a Marine Park all the way from 1km north of Brush Island and 5km from shore to 120km south. There are mapped (see I-Centre at Bawley Newsagency) No Take zones accounting for 20% of the Park in which any form of fishing is forbidden, so you’ll need to check out where you can and can’t fish in the area.Reads: 22350