March is a brilliant time for fishing in the South West as all the summer species are still available. The southern bluefin tuna season is now ramping up and hopefully some good weather conditions will be on the cards.
Timed perfectly to make the most of this is the local Shipwreck Coast Fishing Classic competition. This annual fishing competition, run by the Warrnambool Offshore & Light Game Fishing Club, will run from March 1-10, culminating on the long weekend. There are some tremendous prizes to be won, across a wide variety of species from river to offshore, including two boat package major prizes, so get along and be part of the action.
Mako sharks will be the focus of much attention during the comp and there have been some big ones encountered recently. But none bigger than the one Sam Hallyburton and the crew of Reel Stress subdued; it weighed in at a massive 241kg. The fish was caught out wide off Port Fairy and took 2.5hrs on 24kg line.
March is usually the last month to get amongst the kingy action. When conditions finally warmed up some good captures of kings have been taken locally, most in the 3-6kg range but a few 10kg specimens have been taken by anglers on the money.
Casting and jigging have been the most productive techniques this season. I’ve been having good success throwing smaller stickbaits, like the Zipbaits Monsoon Breaker and SSM120, when the fish have begun shying off larger profile lures.
The first SBT of the season locally was taken by the crew aboard Lucas Wilson’s boat on the 14 January when, on a blue-eye trip to the shelf, they came across jumping tuna and landed a 28kg model. There have been a few sightings in closer and on our last kingy trip we saw some free jumping fish in 40m of water.
Killarney and Point Fairy Bay have been producing some good whiting and squid early morning and evening, while flat seas in these areas make for happy cray or sweep anglers who have been taking some good captures when conditions are right.
Pinky snapper, about 1.3kg, have been making up the majority of offshore bottom bouncers with a few gummies still being encountered. More and more anglers are also heading out wide and chasing blue-eye and other deep sea denizens on the days the weather cooperates. Ed Richardson also managed a fine striped trumpeter off Warrnambool on the long weekend.
The school mulloway resurgence continues locally. Virtually every estuary system along the coast has seen varying numbers of small school mulloway encountered. The great majority of these fish are under the size limit of 60cm but the sheer numbers of them, particularly when compared to the past decade, is a wonderful positive for the future.
Bream fishing has also continued to be good. There have been big numbers of fish in the 28-34cm range in the lower regions of the Hopkins, which have been providing holidaymakers with plenty of action.Reads: 685