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Post flood possibilities
  |  First Published: March 2013



Well if you keep a fishing diary then I would urge you to see what your results were for March 2011 because I believe the coming month will be fairly similar.

Floods have again wreaked havoc along the east coast of Australia and all the systems have received a huge flush. This has discoloured all systems and although this is unpleasant to the eye, many species of fish love to reside and hunt in these zones. Although you may need to slightly change your approach and use brighter lures there are still plenty of fish to be caught using the time proven methods.

Let’s look at a few of your piscatorial possibilities for March.

ESTUARIES

Discoloured water is not always a bad thing for estuaries providing the salinity level is still high. Larger predatory fish find comfort in the shallower water, feeling less conspicuous than they do in clean water. As such, they are more likely to be in the shallows hunting the various baitfish and crustaceans on offer.

Species such as snapper, mulloway, flathead, cod, mangrove jack, tarpon, bream, threadfin salmon, hairtail and many others can be expected, sometimes even when the water looks dirty enough to plough.

Mulloway numbers have been awesome throughout Southern Queensland systems since the 2011 floods with huge numbers of juveniles and plenty of legal fish over 75cm being caught. This year should also see a great season for this species although the best fishing will be throughout the cooler months.

Mangrove jack fishing should be good throughout March with many being taken higher in the water column and a little wider of structure than they commonly are when the water is clear. This is great for anglers as it provides a greater chance for them to pry fish out of their zone.

The usual soft plastic shads and prawn profiles, minnow lures and topwater offerings will still produce. Many anglers find good results on poppers when the water clarity is low. The Lucky Craft G-Splash and Tone Splash are two popular and productive poppers but there is a plethora of other poppers, stickbaits and wake baits that will produce when worked correctly.

Try probing around the rock walls, jetties, bridges and pontoons in the creeks, canals and river systems and the mangrove snags and other structure in the estuaries. Also expect to land a few estuary cod, trevally, flathead, school mulloway and other species while targeting jacks. Fishing at night around waterside restaurants, jetties and pontoons, which have lights illuminating the water, is also highly productive at times. Baitfish are attracted to the light and naturally predatory fish are tempted into this zone.

The shallow flats will hold species such as flathead, bream, whiting and at times trevally, tarpon and others. Fishing the top of these flats towards the upper stages of the tide can be very rewarding, however as the tide starts to seriously drop, move to the edges where the bottom falls away into the channels. Hopping plastics down these declines, or trolling minnow lures so that they bang and rattle across the bottom is the best way to solicit a strike.

With water clarity low, anglers will find colours such as white, pearl, pink, orange and chartreuse green will often produce the best results.

CRABS

The estuaries will also be a great option for mud crabs during March. This is a good month any year however after the rains we have recently received, anglers will find exceptional crabbing opportunities.

The flood waters have flushed crabs from way up the systems out to the river mouths and even well into Moreton Bay. Over the coming month or so these prime muddies will gradually make their way back up the system. Anglers setting pots at the mouth of major creek and river systems should be well rewarded.

Prime spots include the junction of drains and gutters, in deeper holes and along the edges of collapsed mangrove banks.

Safety pots should be well marked with your details (check current fisheries regulations) on both the pot and float and baited with enticements such as fish frames, chicken carcasses, whole mullet, tuna heads and the like. Pots should be left for a minimum of a few hours or preferably even overnight for best results.

There will also be some decent sand crabs to be caught out in Moreton Bay. The same pots and baits will produce the correct result on sandies however pots should be set along major underwater contours around the bay islands and in prominent gutters. The size and bag limit for mud and sand crabs differs so it is wise to brush up on these limits and the correct way to measure each crab species before setting out.

PRAWNS

Generally March is a great month for prawns. These tasty crustaceans commonly run up the major creek and river systems on the full moon in February or March. However, with the recent flush in the systems and huge amount of fresh water still draining out of many, this run could be a little later this year. Regardless, it will be well worth probing a few of the more consistent spots, which can include Deepwater Bend and just up from the Highway Bridge on the Pine River, Brisbane River (numerous good locations here including Colmslie Jetty), off the Woody Point Jetty, Cabbage Tree Creek and most other systems filtering into Moreton Bay.

Large top-pocket cast nets are best with the maximum allowable size being a 12ft drop. There is a maximum of a 10L bucket per person in place which should still result in many tasty feeds for you and your family.

FRESHWATER OPTIONS

The fishing in the upper sections of many creeks and rivers filtering into Moreton Bay will be worthwhile for bass and other species throughout March. Many of these areas can only be accessed to those with canoes, kayaks or other small craft that can be slid in off the bank.

There will be plenty of new underwater obstructions that will provide great habitat for bass and others. Exploring these areas can be a treat in itself and catching a few fish is a bonus. North Pine dam will provide plenty of opportunity for land-based anglers. Casting spinnerbaits, vibration baits and other offerings can often produce a savage strike from a bass, saratoga, golden perch or silver perch.

The upper reaches of the North and South Pine Rivers provides good opportunity for those with small water craft or a penchant to fish via Shanks Pony. I prefer to use spinnerbaits or topwater offerings as they produce results and rarely snag up, which is often not the case with vibration baits and minnow lures fished in unfamiliar waters with plenty of snags.

In North Pine Dam it will be worthwhile to set a few opera house style redclaw pots. These are best baited with rockmelon or sweet potato, however a broad array of offerings that can work. It is often possible to get a tasty feed within a few hours and overnight sessions can produce several hundred at times.

Pots can easily be set from the bank from areas such as Bullockys Rest and numerous other locations. When the tails are wok-tossed with a bit of butter, garlic and a dash of soy sauce, they are a scrumptious feast.

BLUEWATER BEASTS

The offshore fishing for species such as billfish, wahoo, tuna, mackerel and mahi mahi can be quite good throughout March. Trolling is the most popular way to get amongst this action. Offerings such as skirted lures, lipless minnows, bibbed minnows and rigged baits are generally well received by any pelagics in the area.

Popular spots include the grounds out from Jumpinpin and off Point Lookout, The Trench, Hutchinson Shoals, Flinders Reef area and many other spots. Point Lookout and the Cotton Reefs are often popular areas for those targeting Spanish mackerel.

While bibbed minnows such as Laser Pros, X-Rap Magnums, CD Magnums, Sebile Koolie Minnows and the like will produce plenty of strikes, most hardcore anglers will acquire and rig swimming baits as well. These can include tailor, bonito, large garfish, wolf herring, longtom, tarpon, mullet and sauries. Many anglers have their own rigging technique however the premade Chinguard style rigs are a great option for those new to rigging such offerings.

Further offshore in the 80-150m zone, anglers trolling a spread of resin-head skirted lures are likely to encounter an occasional striped marlin and black marlin to 120kg. Fishing even wider will put you into blue marlin territory. These speedsters are usually in the 100-250kg bracket however larger blues and black marlin can also be encountered. Outfits generally need to hold at least 600m of 37kg line to put you in with an above average chance of landing these brutes.

Anglers fish out to around the 1300m line at times however the 200-400m zone is generally the best bet. These same grounds also hold reasonable numbers of bottom dwellers such as bar cod, blue-eye trevalla and gemfish. Most use electric reels to drop baits into these zones however you can have a crack with a large overhead if you have the stamina to reel it back in.

BAY ISLANDS

Fishing around the numerous islands (Peel, Green, King, Coochiemudlo, Macleay and Mud) throughout Moreton Bay should be rather productive. The slightly discoloured water surrounding these zones should provide ideal conditions for snapper, sweetlip, bream, flathead, cod and a host of other species.

The shallows will fish well as these species will feel less conspicuous now that water clarity is lower. Baitfish also seek refuge in the shallower margins, which is the prime reason for the larger predating specimens to enter these zones.

Stealth is obviously important for success in the shallow. However the rewards are often surprising with snapper to well over 50cm being caught by savvy anglers with good lure fishing technique using soft plastics, small blades, flies and even topwater offerings.

Species such as tailor, mackerel and trevally can also show up to add some variety to the bag.

Bait fishing out a little wider will also reap rewards for those with quality fresh baits and minimal rigging. Floating a pilchard out under a balloon in these zones could reward with a school or spotted mackerel.

BAY PELAGICS

March often sees a slight increase in numbers of longtail tuna. Like school mackerel, longtails generally don’t mind a bit of discoloured water and can often be found feeding adjacent the bay islands or quite close to the beach along the front of Bribie Island.

The main shipping channels, Pearl Channel, Caloundra Four Mile, Rainbow Channel and South Passage Bar area are all worth checking out if a sashimi torpedo is on your wish list. However, the action can erupt anywhere at any time so have a rod rigged and ready for action so you can fire out a quick cast.

It is hard to predict as to whether there will still be any decent numbers of spotted mackerel around however recently the action has been fairly limited, with few anglers accounting for any decent numbers. School mackerel are a better option and may be a found around the shipping channel beacons. Here they can be jigged up with chrome slugs and slices or tempted with whole pilchard baits. Trolling some deep diving minnow lures along the edges of the major sand bank systems, especially around the first few hours of the rising tide and latter half of the falling tide, is often a productive way to catch a few.

A few schools of smaller tuna and bonito are likely to show up at times throughout the bay, especially over towards the Big Sandhills, mouth of the Rous Channel, south of Tangalooma, Middle Bank and Pearl Channel.

CONCLUSION

Well as you can tell there is plenty to target throughout March. Although the water clarity may be low at present this is actually a boost for anglers with increased numbers of larger predators in the shallower water. The creek and river systems will start to clear throughout March however providing there is still a high salinity level the fishing in these zones will be business as usual.

Don’t let the water colour discourage you because the fishing should be exceptional throughout March and over the coming months. If you are not getting out on the water you are definitely missing out on some great angling opportunities and the last of the nice warm summer days.

1

Trevally are one estuarine species that seem to thrive in discoloured water.

2

Reviving a decent striped marlin before release.

3

Redclaw numbers will flourish in the impoundments in the coming months.

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