The 31st Golden Lure tournament has come and gone, with impressive results. This event, hosted by the Port Macquarie Game Fishing Club, had 40 boats competing, with 169 anglers in all divisions. There were 45 black marlin, 6 blue marlin, 17 sharks, 2 yellowfin, 1 shortbill spearfish, 1 wahoo and 24 mahimahi tagged.
Champion Male Angler Tag and Release was Dennis Minuti and runner up was Michael O’Brien. Champion Female Angler Tag and Release was Ebony Brown, and runner up was Jessica Hyde.
Champion Junior Tag and Release was Zac Danby, and runner up was Hannah Wilkes.
Champion Boat Tag and Release was Team Simrad, with Eastbound and Rarely In in second and third place respectively.
Twelve-year-old Port Macquarie angler Zac Danby, fishing on the boat Pheel the Bite, is definitely on a hot streak following his success in the Hot Current Tournament last year. Zac managed junior champion and was part of the team to win champion boat. It is great to get back-to-back wins, and when asked about his good fortune, he just said, “I love fishing.” Zac also supported AB Lures produced by Brad Fancett from Port Macquarie, and had great success on the skirted lure ‘Long Tom’, which accounted for Zac’s black marlin.
It’s March and we are starting to look at speedsters off the rocks. It should not be long before the longtail tuna show up and it will be standing room only at ledges in the local area. Point Perp’ at Dunbogan is one of the likely hotspots. Live bait and spin gear will account for a lot of fish again this season, so if you are going to be doing this you’ll need to get out on the stones early to gather some bait as well as a position.
In other less demanding rock fishing pursuits, the washes around the local headlands have been producing drummer, bream and blackfish. Recent reports suggest fresh bonito and large peeled prawns have been accounting for some good mixed bags. There’s nothing quite like a sunrise on the ocean rocks, but make sure conditions are suitable for it and if not sure don’t fish.
On the beach this month, we will be looking at getting into a few mulloway. March does seem to throw a few school sized fish our way, especially if using beachworms. If you can manage an early season tailor, you have the perfect bait to present to a larger mulloway, so it is definitely time to get the big gear ready and start looking at your moon and tide phases. I know that if time allows I intend to spend some time trying for a big one off the beach this year, as it has been a while since I hit the sand.
The fishing in the Hastings has been all over the shop and you really have to put in the effort to get consistent catches at the moment. The fish are there, but the triggers are not as dominant as in previous seasons. By this I mean there is a surface bite, but prawn life in the river (at the time of writing) is nowhere near what it should be for this time of year. Also, the cicadas are not in abundance like previous years. Yes, there are some around, but not enough to generate those ridiculous days where you fish surface lures and enjoy constant action.
For the surface fanatics, there are still fish to be caught, but it just means more casts in the right places. Try around the edges for your bream, with casts placed under overhanging structure or along fallen trees. The other place is the canals, especially with a mid to high tide in the morning. Cast into the shade of jetties and boats and you should be rewarded.
Mulloway in the river have been patchy, but on the last dark we managed a couple of smaller fish to 70cm on plastics, so these will be good targets over the new and full moon periods. All the deeper holes from 5-7m hold fish at times, so if you see bait on the sounder in those depths, give it a try. I like using 10-17cm plastics, but just be observant of the bait and don’t be afraid to swap lures during your session.
On the flattie front, there has been some big girls caught and released. They have been moving around, as several have come from upriver past Dennis Bridge. There’s also a few holding in the Maria section of the river. You need to be patient, as there has been heaps of little flatties of 30-40cm around. Some days you may get dozens of these before a big girl makes an appearance, but again persistence will pay.
In Lake Cathie, anglers are still getting flathead and whiting. Both lures and bait have been accounting for fish and is definitely producing, but with a lack of prawns this last month, I wonder if that will continue? Local prawn fishers find it strange and are at a loss to explain why the prawns were great in November, but December and January was dreadful, to the point of a handful of prawns at most. This system is closed, but has been plenty of times before, to no detriment of the prawning.
Oh well, I’m sure we will find out over coming months, but until something shows up it could be the end of prawning for this season. If the prawns have let you down, then the blue swimmer crabs can give you a crustacean fix, as Cathie and especially the Hastings have continued to produce the goods and at this stage do not look like letting up.
Talented local angler Zac Danby with a black marlin he caught during the Golden Lure. This helped him win the Champion Junior Tag and Release category.
An early spin for bonito helped Ryan Ford to turn one into this nice catch of bream off the rocks.
The big girls are still around in the Hastings River, as Sid found out on a recent trip. This one measured 83cm, and after some pics she swam away.
Nathan Vandermeel with a great 10kg mahimahi caught off Plomer Bay.Reads: 361