Transitional Waters
  |  First Published: March 2011

March is a transition month with warm water pelagics still around in healthy numbers and a large range of tasty reefies beginning to show up as the coastal currents slow.

Although we may have seen very limited numbers of marlin early in the season, last month was a boomer and I’m sure March will bring some pretty hot action as well. The majority of the numbers of black marlin caught this year have fallen to the trusty live bait, which I think is the most productive way to target these fish.

For a marlin mission, start with a spread of lures ranging from 6” to 9” in various colours and concentrate your efforts around the back of the 36s and 50s. Watch carefully for any bait schools that may be getting rounded up by predators. Pods of dolphins are another good sign bait is close.

Once bait has been located use a bait jig with a size 4 hook and a heavy sinker to drop into the bait school. Most times it won’t take long to gather a good haul of prime live baits such as slimeys, yakkas or small bonito. My live bait rigs consist of an 8ft trace of about 150lb with a 9/0 eagle claw circle hook and try using a range of sinker sizes for best results.

Mackerel will still be lurking about this month and by trolling hardbodied lures such as Lively Lure blue pillies and Halco Laser Pros around areas such as the Nine Mile and Fidos reefs. When trolling hardbodies try to steer clear of wire traces and opt for heavy monofilament, you might get bitten off occasionally but the mono leader with result in more bites.

If you’re around the Nine Mile this month you’ll find there will most likely be schools of small tuna chopping the surface and eating your trolled and spun lures. By using a twin 9/0 hook rig on 100lb wire you can troll these jelly bean size tuna around and catch some monster wahoo and mackerel. Hook your front hook through the tuna’s top jaw and the back one down near the tail and troll them as slow as possible. A bait like that usually won’t be out there long before something finds it.

March is always a good time to start chasing a few nice snapper around our close reefs. Anywhere around the 18s or 24s with a good bit of reef will be a good place to come across a few good reds. By slowly drifting down pillies or strip baits on as lighter sinker as possible is the best way to approach a snapper reef. I use a 3 gang of 5/0 hooks, in case of a stray mackerel or if there’s a few tailor about, there’s less chance of being bitten off. I like to also use monofilament line instead of braid when snapper fishing purely because I find that less hooks are pulled during the fight.


There will be plenty of bream and whiting around this month and by fishing the drop-offs around the banks around the mouths are usually the best place to fish this time of year. By pumping a few yabbies and collecting some small soldier crabs you can have yourself a bucket of top bait with minimal effort.

For best results try using a size 6 hook, a long trace and a small running ball sinker. At times I find by very slowly winding your bait along the bottom can entice a bite.

As the tide gets a bit higher I’ve had really good success and great fun catching a feed of whiting on poppers. I particularly like Currumbin Creek and its crystal clean water for this style of fishing and lures like the Nories Zig Zag Pencil or Treju are just two of my preferred lures for this style of fishing.

The first push of clean water around the Southport seaway will bring with it big schools of white pilchards. This is a gold mine for the ravenous tailor. There’s plenty to be had this time of year and any small size metal lure will not usually be passed up. Just keep an eye out for any birds working and the tailor schools won’t be far behind.

An electric motor is a big help, as it allows you to silently follow the tailor schools resulting in bigger numbers of fish caught. If you don’t have the luxury of an electric, turn off your motor just up wind or up tide of the school and let the elements work to your advantage.

There will still be a few jacks destroying gear this month and by timing the last part of the run-out tide and finding a good bit of structure you will be in with a shot. Two of my more reliable spots are the council chambers in the Nerang River and the Chinderah rock wall in the Tweed. Both of these spots provide the facilities for a good long troll run or can be worked thoroughly with cast lures.


In March the bass will start to school a little bit deeper than in previous months. I find at this time of year slowly rolling plastics like Ecogear Grass minnows or VX50 blades along the bottom or hopping masks down deep being far more productive.

Spot selection is crucial for these fickle fish. Deep points or bends in the main part of the dam are good places to start but sounding around the old river bed searching for schools of fish can be a good way of locating a good haul of usually better quality bass.

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