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Late but no one cares
  |  First Published: March 2013



March really is the best time of year here: Cool mornings and relatively calm and balmy days with a feast of piscatorial action, from pelagics to boofing bass.

Many visiting species arrived somewhat late this season. The big dusky flathead and the kingfish would be the main two of interest but they aren’t on their own.

In late January hardly been a reel had turned on a hoodlum inside Jervis Bay. With the water hitting 22.5° and the bait stacking up, next month’s report should be very different.

Early season marlin showed off Kiama in late January. Reports of a few small blacks caught on the end of a berley trail near the mouth of the Crookhaven River were most interesting.

Dunno about you but I’d love to tick a marlin on a soft plastic off my personal bucket list sometime.

What was noticeable was the lack of early Summer pelagics such as bonito, salmon, tailor and rat kings. JB basically went to sleep with the arrival of the warm water but if putting a simple feed on the table was the objective, then the deep-water sand and tiger flatties were on the chew, as were good supplies of delicious calamari.

Speaking of delicious, more than a few locals are enjoying the taste of a good run of blue-eye trevalla from deep near the continental shelf.

There also have been a few striped marlin tagged from The Kink, which is to expected for this time of year.

Having spin gear with a plastic or metal handy for those delicious mahi mahi is a must and more than a few crews still get caught short when that small bit of flotsam floats past loaded with these fast-growing speedsters.

It’s really amazing to think that these fish may really live only around five years and can grow over 20kg. They hang with even the smallest bit of debris that floats so have that spin gear ready to go.

ESTUARY

The smooth water has had its moments, as usual.

The big tailor didn’t really hit the surface this Summer in St Georges Basin but they are still there. Every tackle shop’s favourite fish have been stripping half a spool of line before busting off 4lb leaders on our boat.

Bearing in mind this Summer’s water is several degrees warmer than the previous wet and cool summers and this may have some influence. So Autumn may be a different story.

The Summer reds in the ‘Pond’ have been a real treat if you were able to find a patch on the chew. Fish of 40cm-50cm were common and, Fisheries Minister, would it be possible for some money for an extension to the fantastic acoustic tagging program run by Dylan Van Der Muelen and co to better understand our local snapper population’s movements?

Are these reds resident fish? Or do they regularly migrate in and out of the system?

While mulloway have not made the basin home in any great numbers since the removal of commercial netting, the snapper have and I have no doubt we’ll see the odd 5kg fish in early Winter.

From the deeper sections of the lake to the shallows we have seen a welcome return to a surface lure bite. The hot days surrounding those local bushfires really ramped up the whiting and the bream.

And for the kids and those who can get their heads around it, there has been plenty of mullet action on bread and small floats. A simple bread berley has had five-year-olds on our boat screaming ‘this is just the best ever!’ as a 30cm-plus yellow-eye mullet pulls drag on 3lb line.

Longer rods with lighter braided line give better casting distance on the flats and more of a cushioning effect on tougher fish.

Mullet are a great way for the kids to catch their first fish that pulls drag and it teaches them the lift-and-wind techniques that form good angling habits in years to come.

Skinned and cut into nuggets and coated in cornflour, they taste great and shouldn’t be treated purely as bait.

THE RIVER

The Shoalhaven River has fished well with some good catches of flathead around Pig Island and plenty of small bream taking surface lures in the lower reaches.

The post-holiday period marked some great jewfish action for a dedicated band of lure-tossers but nothing like last season 47kg fish.

The upper river holds plagues of small bass, the result of past wet seasons. The big fish are there but darkness may be the key to enticing them out.

I’m regularly asked what my favourite form of fishing is and a day on a kayak up any body of freshwater with bass in it is right up there. Yak guide Darryl Head has been putting clients on sessions of 300-plus fish on surface lures between four anglers all season and the action should still be happening, depending on the amount of rain this month.

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