If the weather settles down this should be a great month for chasing game fish off the Gold Coast. The marlin have been in good numbers around the bait schools on 36 and 42 fathoms and the Spanish mackerel have arrived in numbers on the close in reefs.
This month the wahoo should increase in numbers as well and there should be some good blue marlin fishing on the shelf. The spotted mackerel have also been in good numbers on both Palm and Mermaid reefs and most anglers have got their bag limits on the better days.
A good approach this month is to get up early and hit the water at about 6am and target mackerel on the 18 and 24 fathom lines east of Southport and then move further out at about 9am and chase marlin on lures and live baits.
Most of the black marlin have been around the bait schools and currently there has been a lot of bait around. When the marlin are feeding on the bait schools it is often difficult to get them to come to the top and take a lure. Drifted or slow trolled live baits work much better in this situation, and a downrigger can be a big help. Live slimy mackerel are far and away the best bait. Use 7/0 to 9/0 circle hooks when live baiting and relatively light but hard fluoro carbon leader around 80lb on light tackle often attracts more bites. If you can’t find a bait school troll lures or gar and change to livies when you locate a school on your sounder. Most of the black marlin have been between 25-50kg this season although there have been quite a few medium blacks and striped marlin from 70-100kg mixed in with them.
The marlin on the inshore grounds generally fade a bit in March but out on the 42 fathom line, Deep Trag and Spot X the marlin will stay while the bait is present.
It has been an erratic season for blue marlin so far with a few fishless days and the odd run of good fish. The currents have been quite fickled and each day is hard to predict. Generally March is a great month for blues from the 100m line out, and a few striped marlin start to show in the same area.
Mackerel fishing this month is generally at its peak and the 20 and 24 fathom reefs east of Southport often fish well with lures early in the morning. I like a mixed spread of trolled Halco Laser Pros and a small white-skirted squid type lure positioned a long way back. In general, the size of the Spanish mackerel improves in March with a few good fish from 15-20kg starting to turn up on a regular basis. When the fishing is a bit tougher trolled baits or live baits generally work better than lures. Jigging and spinning is another good option, particularly if you can berley at the same time. Slowly trolled small tuna can be deadly and catch wahoo as well as mackerel.
For the bottom-bouncer, the fishing can be slow as the current makes things difficult. In close there will still be a few teraglin, tailor and juvenile snapper with a few mulloway at night.
March is one of the best months of the year to chase pelagic off the Gold Coast so it shouldn’t be too hard to get a screaming ratchet, weather permitting.
This month should see the water in the estuaries cool a bit and there will be a lot of activity in the river entrances, with plenty of the adult mangrove jack starting to move into the estuary mouths and the Seaway before moving offshore.
March and April see a lot of jacks in the Seaway. Small live baits and deep jigged lures can be effective but they are hard to get out of the rocks. Nearly all of these fish are over 50cm long.
The growth potential of mangrove jack is well over 10kg, but the adult fish move out to sea to live, usually on inshore rocky reefs. This happens when they are 50-60cm in length in most estuary systems at the southern end of their geographical range, and at around 45cm in more northern regions. The ones that cause us so much grief catching in the estuaries are the babies!
This month there should be plenty of whiting about in the Nerang and Pimpamah rivers and also in Coombababah creek. Worms, yabbies, shrimp and small poppers and stickbaits are all effective at times. A lot of good fish between 35-40cm turn up in March. Bream also start to move around the estuary and tend to feed more actively as the water cools a bit.
In the Seaway there should be plenty of frog mouthed pilchards on the run-in tides and these attract tailor, trevally and kingfish. Spinning metal lures around the entrance can be productive. Keep an eye out for the birds and the area just in front of the north wall of the Seaway also holds fish in the back eddy it creates on the run-out tide.
Drifting live baits through the Seaway and Jumpinpin entrances should produce plenty of small mulloway but it is often hard to catch fish over the minimal legal length of 75cm in March.
Mud and sand crabs will be in numbers, especially on the bigger tides. If there is a bit of rain try the deeper holes around the main channels as the crabs will leave the shallows fairly quickly if there is a lot of freshwater in the system. Remember to have your details on both your float and your crab pot.
Overall, this should be a great month to fish the Gold Coast and there should be plenty of great fishing in both the estuaries and offshore grounds.Reads: 1237