Pelagics still play up
  |  First Published: March 2013

March is always a great month to attach ourselves to a wide range of species offshore. This will be a bit of a transition month where our warm water pelagics are still around in healthy numbers but a range of tasty reefies will start to present themselves as our coastal currents slow.

Our light tackle marlin season so far has been pretty good but has been a bit quiet in the last month. Despite this I’m confident that our usual run of medium class fish (50-150kg) will still show up in march. You will most likely encounter these on the 36 fathom line, spot X and Deep Trag.

Keep your eyes peeled for any bait schools that may be getting rounded up by predators. Also if you spot any pods of dolphins, this may mean bait isn’t too far away.

Once bait has been located use a bait jig with about a size 4 hook and heavy sinker to drop into the bait school. You’ll find most times it won’t take long for a string of prime live baits such as slimey’s, yakkas or small bonito will be hauled aboard. My live bait rigs consist of an 8ft trace of about 150lb with a 9/0 eagle claw circle hook and try using a range of sinker sizes for best results.

Blue marlin have been showing up from time to time so far this year and I think they will only get better as we get a bit later in the season. The fish have been averaging around 150kg but there have been quite a few larger fish in the mix. Using 50lb tackle is absolute minimum when chasing blues and most of the big boats around are using 130lb tackle these days.

You will catch these fish anywhere outside the 100m line and as usual keep an eye out for flying fish, tuna schools and birds, these indications will show you where the fish are located. Try trolling lures ranging from 9-17”; I usually troll a spread of lures with various sizes and colours as different lures work on different days.

Mackerel will still be lurking about this month, so troll hardbodied lures, such as Lively Lure Blue Pillies and Halco Laser Pros around areas such as 18 and 24 fathoms off Southport, the Nine Mile and Fidos Reefs. When trolling hardbodies I use a single strand wire trace of around 80lb. Single strand is thinner than any other trace and you will find that your lure will swim faster and deeper than it would when using other leader materials.

If you’re around the Nine Mile this month you’ll find there will most likely be schools of small tuna chopping the surface and eating your trolled and spun lures. By using a twin 9/0 hook rig on 100lb wire you can troll these jelly bean size tuna around and catch some monster wahoo and mackerel. Hook your front hook through the tuna’s top jaw and the back one down near the tail and troll them as slow as possible. A bait like that usually won’t be out there long before something finds it.

March is always a good time to start chasing a few decent snapper around our close reefs. Anywhere around the 18 or 24 with a nice bit of reef will be a good place to come across a few good reds. By slowly drifting down pillies or strip baits on as lighter sinker as possible is the best way to approach a snapper reef. I use a 3 gang of 5/0 hooks, I like to use ganged hooks in case of a stray mackerel or if there’s a few tailor about, there’s less chance of being bitten off. I like to also use monofilament line instead of braid when snapper fishing because I find that less hooks are pulled during the fight.


That first push of clean water around the Southport seaway will bring with it big schools of white pilchards. This is a gold mine for the ravenous tailor. There’s plenty to be had this time of year and any small size metal lure will not usually be passed up. Just keep an eye out for any birds working and the tailor schools won’t be far behind.

If you have an electric motor it is a big help, because you can silently follow the tailor schools resulting in bigger numbers of fish caught. But if you don’t have the luxury of an electric, turn off your motor just up wind or up tide of the school and let the elements work to your advantage.

There will still be a few jacks destroying gear this month and by timing the last part of the run-out tide and locating yourself near a good bit of structure you will be in with a shot. Two of my more reliable spots are the Council Chambers in the Nerang River and the Chinderah rock wall in the Tweed. Both of these spots provide the facilities for a good long troll run or can be worked thoroughly with cast lures.

I like a deep diving yet buoyant lure such as a Lively Lure Mad Mullet to cast around spots like these. If you feel your lure swim into a snag, by simply pausing the lure it will float back off of the rock, log, shopping trolley or whatever piece of structure may present itself.

Due to all the rain we have had earlier in the year you will find that there will be big schools of bream hanging around the Tweed bar and the Southport seaway. These fish will be hanging way down deep on any little bit of structure that they can find. The best way to target these schooling fish is by using metal blades such as Ecogear VX Series and also TT blades.


The Hinze dam will be looking a lot different than what you may be used to after all of the flooding we have had in the Gold Coast area earlier in the year. So you may find yourself re-learning the prime fishing areas.

You will get the most numbers at this time of year off the points and you will start seeing large schools holding up in the deeper sections of the dam.

Try slowly rolling plastics like Ecogear Grass Minnows or VX50 blades along the bottom or hopping masks down deep. But spot selection can be crucial for these sometimes fickle fish. Deep points or bends in the main part of the dam are good places to start but sounding around the old river bed searching for schools of fish can be a good way of locating a good haul of usually better quality bass.

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