Now’s the time
  |  First Published: March 2011

Fishing has been very promising since the start of the year and March is always one of our peak months, and this one just could be a ripper. If you’re considering taking time off work, do it this month.

Offshore is set to fire. We’ve already had favourably warm currents pushing in along the coast and the water should only get better.

For the first time in 10 years I enjoyed getting stuck into numbers of striped tuna close to shore, just off Norah Head. They were typically flighty and challenging but once hooked, went like missiles on light gear.

Bonito have also been out in force, although the average size is a touch small, similar to the previous season.

Having said that, a few larger bonnies around 3kg are hitting lures here and there.

Frigate mackerel tend to appear in better numbers in March and April so those who would like to give their bream gear a workout or who wish to stock up on some first-class bait should spin with small metals around 15g to 20g.

You’ll still hook bonito on these smaller lures, so it’s not like you’re going to miss out.

Good-sized mack tuna have really turned on the action in big numbers close along the coast. They showed up early last month and I've never seen so many, not even up north.

Out wide it’s been a reasonable season for mahi mahi and there have been plenty of decent ones around 15kg hooked on baits or lures aimed at marlin.

At the time of writing there has been a sprinkling of marlin, mainly blacks around 50kg to 90kg, trolled up from the 100m line out to the continental shelf. No doubt there will be more this month.

If good water pushes in closer and there’s enough bait around we could see some marlin much closer in. So if you don’t have a big boat to get out wide, you’re still in with a reasonable chance within 5km of shore.


Rock fishing should also be very good this month, especially for those who like high-speed spinning for bonito, frigates and rat kings.

As usual, the top rock spots are at South Avoca, Winney Bay, Terrigal, Wybung Head and Snapper Point.

Even if some cooler water moves in you should still be in with a chance of tailor or salmon.

If the water’s warm and blue, crank the lures in fast but if it’s a bit cold, try a slower retrieve.

Apart from the small speedsters, big live baits or fresh calamari fished on heavy tackle may result in a decent kingfish through the day or jewfish after dark.

I reckon up north around Catherine Hill Bay is better for kings or jewies but some of the good ledges to the north and south of the town are a bit of a long walk. Remember, though, big rewards may take some effort.

The beaches should also fish well this month.

Casting small baits of pipi, peeled prawn or beach worm close in just behind the shore dump should be a good thing for a whiting.

Almost all of our beaches will yield whiting. Before heading off, though, consult the tide chart and try to time your outing with the first few hours of a rising tide.

I tend to think of whiting as morning fish because it’s easier to use light gear earlier in the day before the onshore winds pick up.

Later in the evening it’s time to get out the bigger gear for tailor or jewfish.

Apart from the possibility of a good jewfish at this time of year, some of my biggest tailor have been beached during March in previous years.

Bream should be starting to build up along the beaches from now on.

Although you’ll run into bream almost anywhere, if you want to specifically target them I recommend casting baits adjacent to patches of reef or near points or headlands, under foamy water. Again, a rising tide tends to be best for beach bream.


Bream are also the main estuary target this month. Brisbane Water, Tuggerah Lakes and the southern end of Lake Macquarie will all produce, whether you’re soaking baits or casting lures.

The surface lure bite is normally very good in March but if we have a patch of cooler weather move through, revert to soft plastics or diving hardbodies to score fish.

Whiting and flathead are other reliable species to look for and if you’re keen to pin a jewfish, try with live bait or larger soft plastics around The Rip in Brisbane Water.

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