Pambula Lake

Salmon caught with a lure at Pambula Lake, Steve Cooper

Pambula Lake, south of Merimbula, also known as the Broadwater, produces good catches of bream, dusky flathead, tailor, whiting, salmon, gummy sharks and mulloway. I fished this water with Bruce Libbis on one of his ‘off work’ days. Originally from Colac in the Western District of Victoria, Bruce moved to the NSW South Coast more than 25 years ago, where he skippers Rathlin 2, a 12.5 m Fly Bridge Steber, based at Merimbula. When not running charters, Bruce goes fishing.

We launched at the Pambula Lake boat ramp in the early morning. Despite its popularity and closeness to major population centres, the lake foreshores remain relatively pristine, with eucalypts growing to the water. We motored a few kilometres upstream to where the Yowaka and Pambula rivers flow into the lake. The stretch of river from the ramp to the river junction produces catches of flathead. During winter, when the bream are on their spawning run, large schools sometimes congregate along here as they move upstream.

The Yowaka River is noted Australian bass water. I fished here a few years ago with local fishing guide Micah Adams. Above the Princes Highway, the river is easy to access from shore as Nethercote Rd runs parallel with the river for about 3 km. Bass up to 3 kg have been caught here.

In the shallow areas where the river joins the lake system we started to cast soft plastic lures over the flats and along the edges of channels. The flathead were finicky. A couple of fish were hooked and lost before Bruce brought the first one to the boat.

We headed downstream past the boat ramp, following the channel markers into the Broadwater, before stopping near some oyster leases at Honeysuckle Point where we cast lures for bream. Bream can be seen feeding around these leases and along rocky points where oyster colonies have established. You are not allowed inside the leases, but it is possible to hang back and cast towards them.

Bruce said the deeper water areas in the main part of the lake can produce some serious gummy sharks and mulloway in excess of  20 kg. Schools of tailor hunt schools of anchovies in the main lake and during the colder weather tailor run to 2.5 kg. Anglers spin, troll or work baits, following the movements of the tailor schools by watching the birds.

Downstream from Honeysuckle Point the river takes a sharp right hand turn at what is known as the Shark Hole. This is the deepest water in the lake and a top mulloway spot. From the Shark Hole a long, relatively shallow section runs to the sea. Every year the salmon run in good numbers in this Strait, and it also produces flathead, whiting and bream. When the salmon are running anglers work lures or flies, moving along the channel until they spot a school and then cast ahead of the school. In some years, the salmon average about 2 kg.

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