Pelagics play hardball
  |  First Published: March 2013

This season has turned out to be a bit odd regarding the pelagic species.

The black marlin put in a great show, with many anglers getting into these great little sport fish and we converted many of our customers into first-time marlin anglers.

The only down side was that the other pelagics have not put on much of a show. Hopefully this will change this month with a few more mackerel showing up, as well as some schools of yellowfin tuna.

Both are prized table fish and are not too shabby in the fighting department, either.

Wahoo will also be more viable targets and they often show up in better numbers towards the end of the season. Many of the wahoo that have been caught to date have been small and spread out, with fish encountered from the wider grounds all the way in to just off the Tweed bar.

On one charter we caught a wahoo trolling from the 36-fathom line out to the 50s and later that day we caught another trolling between the Mud Hole and the bar – two completely different areas producing two almost identical size fish.

It often pays to run a couple lures out the back while heading from spot to spot because you never know what you may be running over. However nice a feed of bottom fish is, a few wahoo steaks will definitely not go astray.

The bottom should start to liven up this month with a few more snapper starting to get around.

Look out for the days when the dirty water pushes in onto the close reefs. This seems to bring the snapper in and they respond well to pilchards or bonito fillets floated back.

Whether at anchor or drifting, floatlining can be very effective for a variety of species although snapper are the primary target.

If you have any live bait always try to have one out, whether suspended under a balloon or simply free swimming. The same reefs that are frequented by the snapper will also hold mackerel and wahoo.

A better than average snapper will always quite happily scoff a live slimy mackerel or yakka.


March is also a reasonable month to fish the river; the water should still be warm and the summer species active.

If we do happen to see a slight decline in temperature, then expect some of these fish to really fire up. A sudden drop in water temp generally reminds many of these fish that winter is on the way and they try to put on a bit more condition for the cooler times ahead.

The mangrove jacks should still be firing in the Tweed.

The fish have been responding really well to large paddletail soft plastics fished on 3/8oz-1oz jigheads with a steady, constant retrieve around a variety of structure.

The speed of the retrieve depends on the clarity of the water.

If the water is clear, as at times around the run in tide, then we tend to wind the plastics a bit faster. If the water is quite discoloured, slow the retrieve down.

The cleaner water gives the jacks a bit more time to look at the lure and decide whether it is real. If you speed it up then they have to eat it or watch it go past and jacks very seldom let it go.

My go-to jack set up consists of a Daiwa Zillion baitcaster, 34lb Toray Radius braid and 40lb Fune Hirasu leader. I fish this on a 20lb Airrus 6’8” rod and I run the drag at full lock and give the fish nothing.

The jack in the picture had my leader scuffed up all the way to the leader knot and I still got it. If I had given the fish any line it would have been all over.

They are great fish and well worth the effort.

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