The offshore grounds have been severely affected by the recent floods. The dirty water pushed out to over 40km offshore, which has greatly reduced the blue water pelagic action. However, this month should see plenty of action return as the water clears.
The run of small black marlin started with a great rush but there wasn’t a lot of bait on the offshore grounds to hold the fish, and the action tapered off rapidly in late January and the catch rate greatly declined. In March there should still be a few small black marlin on the inshore grounds but most of the attention will be after bigger 40-100kg fish on the wider bait grounds such as Spot X, Deep Trag and the 36 fathom line.
Already big schools of slimy mackerel are starting to build up and some decent black marlin up to 170kg have been caught. This month live baiting should be productive. If you find a big school of slimies, send down a multi hook bait jig on a heavy sinker and slow troll or drift the areas where the bait is found.
If you have a good sounder you will mark marlin in the bait schools quite easily and if a few are present it isn’t too hard to get a hook up. Use circle hooks and a bridle to your bait. A number 4 to 8 ball sinker above the rig often helps in getting the bait into the strike zone.
Out a bit wider March is a great month for blue marlin beyond the 100m line. These explosive fish need a minimum of 24kg gear and preferably 37kg tackle to take on and are a great challenge from a trailer boat. Most are caught on skirted lures although trolled striped tuna can be deadly.
Bycatch out wide includes yellowfin tuna, wahoo and mahi mahi. A few black and striped marlin also turn up on the wider grounds.
Closer inshore, April is a great month to chase mackerel. Just before the rain there was a good run of spotted mackerel and a few Spaniards and these should return in numbers as the water clears. There has also been a few really big wahoo on the close grounds. Local Tackle World proprietor Dougy Burt recently had and encounter with a wahoo in only 16m of water that was lost at the boat and he reckoned it was well over 2m long.
The Tweed Nine Mile is always worth a look in March, particularly if the current is running. This is the best place on the coast to chase wahoo and also produces Spaniards, mac tuna, marlin and some massive GT. If there is any sort of swell stay well away from the main peak as it breaks in moderate swell. It fishes at its best in light southeasterlies when the blue water is in close and the current runs hard.
Bottom fishing has been restricted by current. A few tailor, snapper, teraglin and parrotfish can be caught this month on the 24 fathom line. Out wider the current makes it very hard to fish but there are a few pearl perch and amberjack for the persistent players.
This month should see conditions start to return to normal and the fishing will greatly improve from the massive recent fresh that has pushed most of the fish to the river mouths and entrances. As things begin to cool down a bit the fish activity changes and there is increasing action on the wide open flats on the bigger tides.
This should be a great month to chase whiting on poppers as after the rain there should be plenty of shrimp and prawns about. The key seems to be to wind quickly. Results can be improved by using two small assist hooks on a length of 10kg braid from the rear hook carrier, and removing the front treble. The tiny assist hooks imitate the feelers of the prawn and whiting tend to grab the lure hook first.
March is an excellent month for crabbing and the recent rain has certainly had the crabs on the move. Work on big tides up on the mangrove edges and mouths of small feeder creeks for mud crabs. Fresh chicken frames are an ideal bait.
If you are after sand crabs, the weed beds in the central Broadwater are generally the best option. Sand crabs prefer fish frames to chicken.
Mangrove jacks will still be around and according to local jack legend Mick Horne this is a great month to chase them on surface lures. With the fresh, most of the jacks have been pushed down towards the entrances and all the canals and marinas hold great populations of jacks at present.
There should be quite a few flathead in the Broadwater this month and the fish will be active in the area between Crab Island and Tipplers Passage. As the water clears up quite a few big schools of white pilchards should shoe up and a lot of the fish activity will be around these schools. At this time of year most of the fish are between 40-55cm with plenty of rats as well so it pays to down size lures and leader. Small blades, Transams, Gulps and trolling hardbodies should all be effective. While the numbers caught in March are not like the big scores of spring, the recent fresh and clearing water shouldn’t make it too hard to get a feed of flathead.
The Broadwater had excellent trevally between 50-75cm prior to the rain, and these fish should return in March. The area between Browns Island and the Aldershotts has had plenty of GT action on the run-in tide. Most of this has been when the white pilchard schools are around, and some of the GT have been over 5kg.
Overall, March is a great month to fish the Gold Coast and if the weather stays stable the recent floods should greatly improve the fishing as the water clears up.
Charles Britton with a Broadwater GT prior to the rain. These fish should return in good sizes in March.
Mark Frendin and Michael Green with a decent wahoo. There have been a few really big specimens found on the close grounds.
Michael Green with a 140kg blue marlin from the author’s tinny.Reads: 729