With the amount of water flowing through our systems during the recent deluge and flooding, March should see lower water clarity than in recent years.
This is not entirely bad, with extra nutrients and increased baitfish activity in close that will attract some quality predators. Plenty of old timers have told me the fishing was excellent after the 1974 floods so hopefully we will salvage something positive out of this natural disaster that has devastated so many.
The low water clarity allows predating species to feel inconspicuous in quite shallow water. This will add up to some pretty awesome fishing if things pan out well. In addition to increased piscatorial activity, we should also see quite good numbers of prawns running up the estuaries and some excellent crabbing, especially for muddies.
As many anglers have kept away from the water due to bad weather and flooding in recent months, now is an awesome time to get out and about in Moreton Bay and the filtering waterways to get back to our pastime.
With discolored water in the estuaries, we should see increasing numbers of mulloway, trevally, flathead, threadfin and a few other species. Areas such as the mouth of Jumpinpin, Pumicestone Passage, Brisbane River and most major systems flowing into Moreton Bay should be worth a go.
Drifting the channel leading in from the Jumpinpin Bar will produce quite decent fish for those with soft plastics and baits. The rising tide should see the best results with early mornings and late afternoons being prime times.
Casting plastics in the mouth of Swan Bay, then hopping them down the mud ledges into the main channel will often reward you with quality trevally, bream, flathead or mulloway. The same approach and offerings can also be applied for the ledge along Kalinga Bank.
This area often produces some XOS flathead with specimens to the magic metre mark being caught at times. These large breeders should be handled carefully and released quickly to ensure they breed, providing lots of small flathead to keep numbers healthy.
Keep an eye out for surface action around the bar area as trevally, mackerel and the occasional school of small tuna will bust up during their feeding antics, especially on an early morning rising tide.
Further up the system there will be decent numbers of flathead to be trolled up along the edges of prominent banks and in the major gutters. Whalleys Gutter and Gold Bank get hit hard but still continue to produce good catches.
A few mangrove jack will be caught by anglers casting minnow lures and plastics around structure such as mangrove snags, rock walls and also in the canals. Estuary cod, trevally, tarpon and others will also be on the hit list.
The Pumicestone Passage will be worth a look with bream, flathead and whiting being the main catches in the lower reaches. The canals will produce jacks, bream, cod and the occasional school mulloway and others. The mouth of Elimbah Creek is always worth a look for flathead, especially around the old oyster leases, although there is not much left of them now.
Further up this system there is always a few mangrove jacks, estuary cod, flathead and other species caught. Try casting a few lures around any prominent pieces of structure such as the rock bar in Glasshouse Mountain Creek. I am even aware of a couple of threadfin caught in Elimbah and at least two barramundi, one of which was a good 77cm specimen that was released.
The W’s always produces a few good flathead, bream and whiting for anglers drifting baits or casting soft plastics and small minnow lures. The water around the Bribie Island Bridge is worth a look for snapper, trevally, flathead, bream, cod and others.
Night sessions and early mornings are the best times as boat traffic is at a minimum. At night, try casting lures or unweighted hardiheads, whitebait or prawns into the lighted areas and allow the current to sweep the bait back towards you as you slowly retrieve the slack. This technique will often produce quality fish including tarpon, trevally and occasionally mackerel and tailor.
Live baits of mullet, herrings and prawns fished close to the bottom will also produce these species however estuary cod, shovelnose and a myriad of ray species will also be tempted.
This system should start to fish well again after the recent floodwaters. The water quality is still fairly ordinary at the start of February with visibility at less than a few centimeters. It’s hard to predict how fast the river will clea, especially considering there will be salvage operations and dredging upstream for quite some time.
Hopefully the threadfin numbers will still be exceptional, as they have been for the past few years. Cod, bream, flathead and mulloway are all possibilities but their prominence will depend on water quality. Your guess is as good as mine.
Snapper numbers should be excellent around the bay islands in the coming months. Snapper are off limits this month but there are plenty of other species to target in these margins.
Peel Island was the first to regain decent water quality after the floods. Only a couple of weeks after the floods, there’s already been a few excellent sessions for those anglers casting plastics along the edge of the reef on the western side.
An occasional mackerel, mainly schoolies, have been caught on plastics and drifted pilchards. A few big Spanish mackerel have been caught here over the years, as well as XOS longtail tuna and yellowtail kingfish, creating exciting opportunities for anglers fishing these waters.
Mud Island should fish fairly well for anglers casting plastics around the reefs on the northern and eastern sides. Most of this ground will produce good quality sweetlip, morwong, tuskfish and others,
Stealth will be your best weapon for catching the better specimens on plastics. Lipless crankbaits such as Sebile Flat Shads, especially the suspending models can also be worked effectively in this precinct. Casting soft plastics along the rock walls on the eastern and southern sides is likely to produce a few quality estuary cod and the occasional good bream and other species.
The mackerel have been a little light on this season, mainly due to the dirty water in the bay. There has been decent numbers of quality spotties on the north and south coast where water quality is better.
Longtails usually like to work the edges of a dirty water line where it meets with cleaner water. Baitfish are usually present in this zone and the longtails will cruise this line, periodically smashing the surface as they encounter conglomerations of bait. Hopefully good numbers of prawns will be located in the bay during March. As such, trawlers should be working the various productive areas during weekdays.
One technique from years past that works well involves dropping live baits behind the trawlers as they pass. Large longtail tuna will often follow the trawlers, dining on the wounded and dead baitfish and prawns that are pushed out the rear of the net.
An unweighted live yakka, whiting, slimey mackerel or pike will produce some creditable longtails but will also be slurped up by some pretty large sharks.
Remember to not interfere with the trawlers path or operation as these guys are out earning their living. Wait for the nets to pass before dropping your live bait in. You can be fined for interfering with commercial fishing operations so take care and be courteous.
It is pretty hard to accurately predict what effect the floods will have on the offshore waters however I believe that the fishing will prosper from the nutrients flushed into the inshore waters.
Unfortunately there is a closed season in place for snapper, pearl perch and teraglin (trag) until the end of March but those who live bait or jig the prominent reefs, wrecks and ledges will be able to get into a few yellowtail kingfish, amberjack, samson and the occasional cobia.
Trolling rigged baits (live or dead) or floating out baits around areas such as Flinders Reef, Roberts Shoals, Brennans Shoals and Boat Rock is likely to produce an occasional Spanish mackerel. Popping or stick-baiting these same areas will likely entice an occasional large GT.
Anglers have caught specimens to over 30kg in these areas, with some regularity at times. These large fish are awesome to catch and should be released as they are ordinary on the palate and are much more valuable as a sportsfish.
Trolling the usual grounds of Hutchinson Shoals, the Trench and around The Group is likely to produce varied pelagics including wahoo, yellowfin tuna, mahi mahi, Spanish mackerel and the occasional billfish.
Skirted lures, lipless minnows and bibbed minnows will all be worth trying in these grounds. It often pays to mix up your spread if you want to cover your options for all these species.
Further offshore, on the grounds between 80m and 150m, there may be a few larger black marlin and striped marlin. As you troll waters further offshore, you may start to encounter a few blue marlin. You will need to have at least 700m of 80lb line to have a good chance of landing the majority of fish hooked (average weight 150kg) and at times this is still not enough.
I am predicting it to be a good prawn season this year due to the nutrient influx in the estuaries from the floods. Prawns will generally school on the offshore flats with anglers often getting good results while cast netting the flats out from Nudgee, Deception Bay and Raby Bay.
Many of these areas will have plenty of extra snags due to the floods and cast net losses and damage will be higher this year. It may pay to sound over the grounds to locate possible obstruction before casting your expensive net. On the full moon, usually in February or March, the prawns will run up into the estuaries making them much easier for anglers to target.
There are plenty of spots where land-based anglers can access these tasty treats. Casting from areas such as Deepwater Bend, Woody Point Jetty, Colmslie Jetty, Newstead Jetty, Sandgate Jetty and Hornibrook Highway Bridge can produce some decent numbers of prawns at times.
It is often possible to get your limit of 10L of prawns within an hour or so when they are running hard. They make great baits for a variety of species if you can resist taking them home for a feed.
Most years, monthly fishing activity is hard to predict. This year it is nearly impossible and I can only make an informed guess as to what may happen. I believe the fishing will be pretty good in the coming months and we should have a cracker winter with plenty of awesome fish in close.
March and the coming months will also be influenced by any further downpours and the best advice I can give is to get out on the water and give it a go. You will probably be surprised at results obtained with any decent effort, as there will be some quality species in close.
I think the fishing will be great during March so get out and enjoy the waters of the Great South East and the bounty they hold.Reads: 647