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Mystery mix in March
  |  First Published: March 2014



March is the best fishing month of the year. The weather is great, the ocean is warm and it is swarming with fish. There’s no better time to take the kids out fishing because you can almost guarantee a heap of fun.

The harbours are the best spots for land-based anglers, with bream and flatties in the mornings and afternoons when the crowds are fewer and the fish bite better. Bait is always productive but you can introduce the kids to the world of high-speed tuna off the rocks in the form of those feisty little frigate mackerel that buzz the harbours at this time of year. High tide is generally the best because they like that greater water depth. Combine this with a light spinning outfit with 3kg line and a very small shiny/chrome lure (it’s one of the few times plastics are not the best) and you are in business. More often than not you will see them come in schools, so just cast ahead of the school and wind like crazy. When they are in the mood, hook-ups will come regularly.

Frigates take off like rockets and really give the kids a workout as they peel off quite a bit of light line, something flatties and bream just can’t do in the same manner. They also fight all the way back. After a successful session, you can use your fresh frigate to catch bream, flatties and who knows what else.

Bellambi Harbour can be standing room only when they are on because the mulloway anglers like them for bait as well. Wollongong is always good and less crowded, Port Harbour along the break walls and even in at the ramp and Shellharbour has them too on the little break wall. And over at Beaky Bay near the gravel loader you can find them churning in the thousands, particularly if you get a southerly through after a northeaster. The benefits are even better here as there are salmon, bonito and kings in the mix as well. Kiama Harbour fires too and you are higher up so you can see them coming from a long way off.

OFF THE ROCKS

For the bigger boys the rocks are firing all along the coast, particularly the deeper ledges around the Kiama area with live baits scoring mac tuna to 8kg and some solid kingfish if you can stay in contact. Live frigates are the main bait to bring the kings undone while yakkas and slimies work for the mac tuna. The tough part is all the salmon that steal the livies first.

The big extra at this time of the year are the longtail tuna that come though. They are always over 20kg so keep that live bait out at all times as they can come through at any time of the day and they really go.

If you set your sights a little lower, there are heaps of salmon and bonito all along the coast grabbing lures and pillies, and a few nice snapper and pan-sized reddies in the evenings on pillies and fresh mackerel fillets.

A few drummer are showing up in the washes and the blackfish will be travelling all along the coast towards the end of the month. Cabbage weed is the key at this time. The usual bream and trevally in the washes are always partial to small pieces of tuna.

BEACHES

The beaches are firing as well with just about anything on the cards. Whiting are at their peak in numbers and size but beachworms are a must for a serious attempt. Salmon are on all the beaches, you just have to pick a good gutter, throw in a pilchard and they will come.

Tailor are on the bite with some solid fish on the northern beaches. The hour after sundown is as always the best time for them because as the sky gets darker the bigger predators move in, and they like tailor too.

Mulloway are about, although there hasn’t been much news of big fish lately. The schoolies are biting but you will have to put in the time for regular results, while that stray is always on the cards when chasing the other fish.

Sharks are a bit of a problem at this time of the year so take plenty of extra hooks for when the whalers move in.

Bream are gathering along the rocks at the ends of the beaches and there have been quite a few dart about of late just to make you think you have a big bream.

LAKE AND RIVER

Bream are picking up in the lake as well, and forget about your lures if you really want to catch some big ones. Grab a tuna or bonito, cut the firm flesh into 2cm cubes and keep the rest for berley. You’ll want to find a spot with a bit of cover and depth, preferably out of the main current in the main channel. Along the edges of the weed beds is always a good option.

Put the anchor down and deploy your berley in a small but constant stream. Don’t even think about putting a bait in the water for at least half an hour. Finally, put on one of the cubes and cast it just out in the berley stream and leave the bail arm open. I didn’t mention a sinker because you don’t use any weight at all.

Now enjoy the fun!

A few live prawns go well too at the end of the session to get the fish that get a bit cagey.

Live prawns work well over the entrance sand flats for whiting and flathead too but plastics cover a lot more area for the flatties. Some big fish have come in of late and they have been coming from all over the lake.

Minnamurra is the same with some very nice bream in the deeper holes and around the bridges, with flatties along the whole river and whiting on the flats around the bridges and down around the entrance.

OFSHORE

Offshore it is humming along with all manner of species to choose from. The bottom bouncers are getting heaps of flatties all along the coast; as long as you are over sand you will pretty much catch flatties, but the recognised spots are producing the most.

Over the reefs there are plenty of small to medium snapper on both bait and plastics, with plenty of morwong, pigfish, trevally, samsonfish, the odd teraglin and even a couple of stray pearl perch.

On the surface there are heaps of bonito, salmon, frigate mackerel and small kings giving the baitfish a hiding all along the coast. Casting lures is fun but there are bigger fish to fry with some descent kings frequenting all the local haunts.

Bellambi Bommie, The Islands, Bass Point and Rangoon are all producing with live slimies and yellowtail doing most of the damage. If you can spin or troll up a frigate and get it out alive, the big boys will come out to play.

These days the bigger fish are well educated and for the most part will clean you up pretty quickly but I like the challenge. You can get them, but using 100lb braid is like shooting your neighbour’s chooks in the pen and calling yourself a hunter. Anglers fish for the fun of it, and just pulling a big fish on heavy line is poor sport.

Further offshore there are any number of sport and gamefish available with all three marlin species taking lures and livies from the close-in reefs to the shelf and beyond. The big blues will be the target for those heading wide while the blacks can be right in on the close reefs over the coming weeks before leaving us. More striped marlin should arrive at the end of the month.

Sailfish, wahoo and spearfish are still a distinct possibility this month with the warm water hanging about, and there are still plenty of mahi mahi around the FADs grabbing live baits and lures.

Small yellowfin tuna can show up almost anywhere, even mixing it with the striped tuna. With luck we might get a few better fish in the mix; in the not-so-distant past, March was a top tuna time on places like Bandit and Wollongong reef, with heaps of fish to 60kg leaping out of the water smashing sauries.

In close don’t be too surprised if a cobia grabs a kingie live bait or you get a few snip-offs from spotted or Spanish mackerel. You might also pick up some of the warm water trevally like big eyes or GTs. Throw in the odd rainbow runner and amberjack, and you just don’t know what you will come up with.

But then again, it is March!

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