Warm water, calm days and heaps of fish – that’s what March is all about.
It doesn’t seem to matter what type of fish you chase or the style of fishing you prefer, everything is catered for this month.
Rockhoppers generally do it tough through the year, with a turbulent ocean to contend with and generally limited species available – but not over coming weeks, with all manner of species lining up.
On the deeper ledges there are smaller pelagics like bonito, salmon, mackerel tuna, frigate mackerel, tailor, several species of trevally and rat kings.
They are often in schools tearing the water to foam right at your feet as they herd baitfish against the rocks. Early morning and late arvo are the best times, particularly if there is a light north-easter blowing.
Raider slugs, Crystal Eyes and the popular plastic squid or fly towed behind a bobby cork all score. Places like Coalcliff, Wollongong breakwall, Port Kembla breakwalls, Honeycomb, the northern side of Bass Point from the loader to the crankshaft, Cathedral Rocks, Bombo, Blowhole Point at Kiama and Marsdens will all be popular.
Then there are larger fish like kings to 20kg-plus, the odd marlin, mackerel tuna to 8kg and, later in the month, the first of the longtail tuna. Live baits are a must but they often take the smaller lures as well.
There are heaps of hammerhead and whaler sharks and there is always the chance of a stray cobia.
There are plenty of bream in the washes and berley will attract them and any trevally about as well. Use royal red prawns and green weed and pick up a few black drummer.
Be careful of the lurking silver drummer; these things pull like trucks and grow to 10kg and you’ll do well to land them. If you do land one, get a picture and let it go – they taste like burnt rubber!
Frigates and bonito zip in and out of the harbours. Bellambi, Wollongong, Port and Shellharbour will all be well patronised in coming weeks, with time of day not mattering to the fish. The frigates are great bait off the beaches later in the evenings.
On the beaches it is heaven with jewies making a good show on all the recognised beaches. Fresh bait is always best but big soft plastics are scoring their share and picking up some good flathead as well.
Whiting are on the beaches but not as thick as other years. That might have something to do with the flogging they got from the nets pre-Christmas.
You always need beach worms for best whiting results but don’t get greedy, catch a feed and then chase something else for fun.
Bream will do and you should get a few mixed with your whiting. A fresh piece of frigate will always tempt them in the surf.
Dart are about knocking off beach worms meant for whiting and they really pull hard. Love them or hate them, they are good fun.
Salmon are always reliable and can be a bit of a pest at this time of the year when you are chasing other species. Just after dark, tailor move onto the beaches and a fresh slab of tailor always makes a good jewie bait.
In the estuaries, it’s all systems go with everything willing to have a crack. Flathead seem to be popular these days with their willingness to grab plastic.
It used to be rare to catch flathead over 60 cm but this year there have been fish to 80 cm with a good few in the 70s and heaps of 40s for a feed.
Chopper tailor can be a nuisance, slicing your plastics to shreds, but a small shiny metal lure will bring them undone every time and keep the kids busy for hours.
There are bream in the creeks and along the rocky shore, with evenings best.
You could try drifting a live mullet or yellowtail around the bridge pylons or the breakwalls at the lake on a run-out tide for a jewie. Big plastics also work.
Around the bridges in the lake and Minnamurra you even could find a stray mangrove jack.
Over the weed beds there are plenty of big mullet and garfish and blackfish are taking weed and squirt worms in the main channels of both local waterways.
The offshore fishing just explodes this month.
Out wide, blue, black and striped marlin are on tap. Throw in spearfish, wahoo, the odd sailfish, yellowfin tuna, mahi mahi and all manner of sharks and you have game fish heaven.
There are heaps of smaller dollies around the FAD and any floating debris with bigger ones down a bit deeper. Big live baits will bring them undone.
Along the coast and over the shallower reefs we still have black marlin, the odd sailfish and some big kings. Add in a few stray cobia and maybe even spotted or Spanish mackerel, longtail tuna and mackerel tuna and your live yakka or slimy could get nailed by anything.
The boiling masses of fish churning up the surface are lots of smaller kingfish, salmon, small mack tuna, striped tuna, frigates, massive slimy mackerel and bonito getting bigger by the day.
Bigger kings are taking live bait around the islands, Bellambi Bommie and down around Bass Point and Kiama.
Snapper are starting to be taken from the berley trails, usually in less than 30m. Some of the bigger fish are coming from the shallows around the exposed bommies.
A big plastic worked under the feeding masses of pelagics works well, too, if it gets down without being snaffled first.
The berley trails also work well for plenty of small samson fish, some stray amberjack, trag, rainbow runners and spotted mackerel.
If you get bitten off and didn’t even feel it, try some light wire as the culprits could be spotties. They could be small sharks, too, but you have to try.
Whole unweighted pilchards drifted down the trail will bring most of these fish undone.
The flathead will still be on the boil for the next couple of months. I used to find the best flathead fishing was under the seagulls just sitting on the surface doing nothing in particular – or are they?
Flathead are hunters and they follow the bait and the bait might be top to bottom, with small anchovies or the like, and the seagulls are actually picking off the baitfish as they come to the surface.
Over the reefs there are lots of small snapper, mowies, samson, trevally, the odd trag, rat kings, and plenty of sweep. So get out and at them.Reads: 3663