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Make the most of the best
  |  First Published: March 2012



The first chilly mornings will start this month and become more regular from now on, but as the weather starts to cool the fishing should only get hotter.

So if you’re not a great fan of fishing through Winter, I strongly suggest making the most of what’s on offer over the next two months.

Beach fishing is certainly one of the most rewarding things you could try through March.

Pretty much any species you’re ever likely to catch from local beaches will be possible this month. The main players, however, will be tailor, bream, whiting and jewfish.

Unfortunately, we don’t see tailor show up in the great numbers that were around 20 years ago and I can’t ever see that changing.

Back to this month’s beach fishing.

Whatever numbers of tailor show up this month, they’ll be more active on a rising tide towards dark or early in the morning, especially in gutters surrounded by plenty of whitewash.

As always, pillies on ganged hooks are the go but spinning with lures is another good option. I always pack lures in the beach tackle box, even though I mainly use bait. The lures have certainly come in handy at times.

Likewise, bream, whiting and jewies are also a much better chance on a rising tide and jewfish in particular have a habit of taking baits in the last 20 minutes leading up to the high and up to 20 minutes after the peak.

So when chasing these fish, or anything else from the beach, always aim to fish the rising tide.

Of course, there are always a few salmon lurking around the surf and other species that can show up at this time of year include the odd kingfish, frigate mackerel and even cobia. So it would pay to be prepared for the unexpected.

ROCKS FIRE

Rock fishing will also be firing through March. As with any other time of year, the only real limiting factor is the weather.

Unless the seas are too rough or it’s too windy, we can expect to catch plenty of bonito at places like Winney Bay, South Avoca, Terrigal and Wybung Head.

Although bonnies are the main target, others like frigate mackerel, kings, mack tuna, tailor and salmon may all zoom in to hit baits or lures.

If we’re lucky, a few cobia or longtail tuna may also swim in close this month.

Through January and February spinning for pelagics from the rocks was a bit patchy but that’s often the case, especially in January.

Right through March, though, water temperatures are normally at their peak and remain quite stable, between 21° and 24° in close. So if you haven’t enjoyed some of the spinning action so far this season, this is definitely the month to put some time in on the stones.

Estuary fishing has been going reasonably well, although from what I’ve seen over the past month or so, bream numbers appear to be slightly down on the previous couple of Summers.

On the other hand, flathead are still going strong and whiting have also been plentiful.

Autumn is normally the best time of year for bream overall, so if we don’t cop any major flooding they should be around in good numbers this month and still hitting surface lures quite well.

If you don’t have much luck with the bream, go for flathead.

Brisbane Water jewfish also go pretty well through Autumn, especially as the nights start to get a bit colder.

OFFSHORE PEAKS

Offshore fishing along the Central Coast also peaks this month.

Out wide there have been marlin, mainly blacks and stripes, as well as a few big mahi mahi. Closer in around the ever-present ships, smaller to mid-sized dollies have been caught.

Closer in again, bonito and rat kingfish have been in healthy numbers with just the occasional bigger king up to 12kg caught on baits like live squid.

Snapper, jewies, tailor and trag are also worth chasing, especially of an evening and into the night.

Those annoying Summer north-easterlies start to back off at this time of year, making way for light offshore breezes so fishing at night is made easier.

All up, it’s another great month for local fishing no matter what type of fish you’re hoping to catch.

We should have at least another six weeks of good fishing ahead of us before things start to slow down, so enjoy it while it lasts.

WHERE ARE THE TAILOR?

Back in the old days it was common to have a line of keen beach fishos standing at a gutter and suddenly, as the tailor moved in, every rod would buckle over almost simultaneously and the action would last for an hour or more. Catches of 15 to 30 tailor were the norm, rather than the piddling five or so we often catch from the beach these days.

Overfishing? Yes, most likely, but if that’s the case, the blame should be shared evenly among commercial and recreational anglers because both sectors have taken tonnes of fish from the water over the years.

Many of us older fishos would remember photos of catches of 50 or more tailor spread out in the backyard so, yes, recreational anglers certainly took their share. However, I’m often puzzled why there are so many juvenile tailor in our estuaries and rivers at times.

When tossing lures for bream, whiting or flathead in Tuggerah Lakes or Lake Macquarie, I’ve experienced plenty of days when these small tailor are thick and they drive you mad as they bite lures off and generally make pests of themselves.

It’s the same case in other places, like Botany Bay, and I’ve been driven insane by little tailor on the Far South Coast and eastern Victoria when I’ve fished there.

So if these estuary-dwelling choppers are in such good numbers, why are there not more adult fish along the beaches and headlands?

Please don’t blame salmon, as before Europeans ever came to these shores there would have been a squillion salmon around as well as tailor. – JR

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