Most visitors on family trips arrive at Merimbula with at least one fishing rod on board. Some give priority to the boat and tackle, then try to fit the family in around them.
A good boat ramp is situated near the causeway at the south end of town. From here, you can motor upstream into the Top Lake, go out under the Causeway Bridge into the bottom lake, or navigate the bar and head offshore.
Offshore the fishing is much the same as that encountered at Bermagui. The Continental Shelf is about 25 km out, but there is often no need to travel that far when the warm current is running closer inshore. As well as game fish, the reefs, such as those near Haycock Point, will produce reasonable bags of snapper and inshore there are productive grounds for flathead.
The pier on the north side of town is excellent for anglers, with luderick, slimy mackerel, salmon, bonito, tailor and sometimes yellowtail kingfish and bonito. Large schools of slimy mackerel are generally around the pier. There is an expanse of rock ledges from the pier up to Tura Beach including Long and Short points. The rocks produce similar species to the pier.
Popular fishing beaches are Main, Middle and Tura and these produce mainly salmon, tailor, gummy sharks and yellowfin bream.
Merimbula Lake, relatively safe and protected, can be fished from the entrance to Boggy Creek, in the north-west corner of the Back Lake. The lake appears broad and shallow, but it offers a smorgasbord of piscine opportunities, including mulloway, dusky flathead, bream, tailor and trevally. Not only does the lake offer serious action, its safe and easy-to-access location lends itself to family fishing. A boat is handy, but not essential, and land-based anglers have the choice of pier, beach or wading.
To fish at the entrance, follow Bar Beach Rd along the northern side, or walk along the beach from the southern end. Mitchies Jetty on the southern side and Spencer Park on the north give anglers access to the channel that runs up past the bridge. Casting lures at the entrance can produce salmon and tailor. Fish the deeper water for luderick, whiting, flathead and bream. Boat anglers anchor along the edge of the channel.
The flats out from Lake Beach are popular for anglers working lures and flies but be careful not to disturb the oyster leases.
Opposite the hotel and just below the bridge is a popular boat jetty, which is the place to go if you want to book a fishing charter and head offshore, or hire a small tinnie, particularly if you intend fishing the deeper water areas of the Back Lake.
The bridge spanning Merimbula Lake is popular with anglers. Fishing is not allowed on the bridge but there are good access points to deep water on either side. On the western side, there is car parking and access is easy and safe. This is a popular area at night during summer when the tailor run, and large schools of trevally are sometimes seen feeding here.
Upriver from the bridge, the channel runs alongside oyster leases on the southern side and sand flats on the opposite bank. Bream can be seen mooching around the leases, but they are in shallow water and easily spooked. This channel makes a dogleg before entering the Back Lake, and near the entrance to the lake is a top spot to hook mulloway, tailor, bream and big dusky flathead. The water just out from the channel entrance is up to 8.5 m deep and can produce mulloway at night.
The southern shore of the Back Lake has a couple of bays that can produce tailor, flathead and mulloway. Follow the shoreline around and you will come across other bays and heavy weed areas. The breaks in the weed are top spots for flathead, as is the entrance to Boggy Creek in the northwest corner. Anglers who fish for tailor tend to troll or cast lures into the feeding action. The tailor feed on anchovy schools and are easy to spot because the birds track them as they feed. During winter, fish up to 3.5 kg can be caught.
Bream can be seen feeding around the oyster leases and will take lures. However, bait fishers using prawn or nippers fished on the bottom probably catch more bream, especially when working a berley trail. You are also likely to hook into good flathead, trevally or a tailor or two.