Warm water and fast fish is the theme for this month.
The East Australian Current is doing its thing nicely, pushing warm water south and bringing all manner of baitfish and the game fish that chase them.
Inshore, the warm water has brought large numbers of flying fish, something I haven’t seen in quite a few years.
Kingfish love them but good luck trying to catch a flier for a live bait!
However, there are schools of slimy mackerel about, which make for fantastic kingfish tempters.
Reports of kings of 8kg to 10kg are filtering in but the bite has been very sporadic. Good fish are also taking deep-diving lures if you fail to find live bait.
Vast schools of bonito around 2.5kg are also present. Metal lures in chrome or white, shallow-diving minnows, soft plastics and live bait all work a treat, as do poppers and saltwater flies.
Bonito that have been bled on capture and quickly placed on ice make superb eating. Skin the fillets and cut out the dark bloodline flesh, then thin the fillets into 10mm to 12mm portions.
I have been crumbing my bonito in Japanese Panko crumbs and the crisp finish simply melts in the mouth.
Schools of pilchards have also been welcome after many a lean year. The schools have been found inshore and also offshore towards the continental shelf.
Marlin have been on fire over the past two months and March should be no different. Pack attacks of striped marlin have been occurring from 60 fathoms to 200 fathoms with double and triple hook-ups commonplace.
Many days there have been 20 or more marlin hooked in a day, particularly if the pilchards, slimy mackerel, cowanyoung, frigate mackerel or striped tuna have been easy to locate.
Once you’ve fond the bait, the trick has been to stay with it and wait for the marlin to come to the surface.
Anglers trolling standard lure spreads are getting the most hook-ups but, as usual, staying connected is always a battle. We recently blew a triple hook-up, with two pulled hooks and an unexplained bust-off on 24kg.
Switch-baiting has been popular this year but many crews have found it difficult to get the fish off the teaser to actually eat a bait.
We have also had some days of perfect weather when we ran two live slimy mackerel around multiple surface schools for more than four hours for not so much as a bite, only to hook up as soon as we went back to pulling lures.
Good numbers of blue marlin have been tagged, with the odd big one testing anglers’ endurance. This month should be a cracker on blues if last year is anything to by.
Black marlin have also made the odd showing with one beast reported to have topped the old 600lb mark (272kg).
Mahi mahi should be present, despite their virtual no-show in January. The FADs (there are now two off Batemans Bay, about 1km apart) have been producing only undersized kingfish every time we have paid them a visit with live bait.
Yellowfin tuna numbers should increase this month with 50kg fish on the cards along with the typical run of the school fish you’d expect over Summer.
Estuary fishing will be worth a look with bream numbers spread throughout the systems.
Anywhere from the entrances to the brackish creeks will be crawling with bream eager to bite.
Surface luring will be viable around oyster racks, rocks and tree snags and a cicada imitation will certainly bring a few undone.
School jewfish should also be on. Locating baitfish schools is the key to finding the jewfish.
Tailor slashing into whitebait concentrations are easy to spot and are great places to nail a jewie.
Many people would steer clear of tailor feeding hard, fearing the loss of a few plastic tails, but this is exactly where you should cast.
Just make sure you don’t work the lure near the surface and you will generally not attract too many tailor. Jewfish prefer the lure deep and slowly worked, anyway.
Bass this month should be as good as they get if we don’t receive heavy rain. Fish to 46cm have been keeping anglers honest around tight timber.
On Christmas Day I scored a PB bass that was so thick and weighty it felt like two bass stuck together. I didn’t have a measure with me but with some of the fish we have been witnessing cruising in rapids and around trees, I expect some serious 50cm-plus fish to be caught this month.Reads: 1327