After the big fresh in January and February, the fishing in March will be fantastic for both estuary and outside fishing.
Spanish and spotted mackerel have finally shown up in good numbers. Both Palm Beach and Mermaid Reef will be the prime places, as anglers seem to migrate to the coast en-masse when the mackerel are on, so get out early and claim your piece of real estate.
Mackerel fishing is at its best after a south easterly blow. The warm blue water is full of baitfish, which pushes close to inshore reefs. Anchoring up and setting a berley trail is still the best way to catch heaps of spotted mackerel and pilchards are the number 1 bait. I like to set 2 baits a fair way back under floats, and with another rod I like to drift half pillies down the trail. Mackerel can be ridiculously fussy at times, so it pays to use light wire around the 25lb mark and about 20cm in length. A small 3/0 Owner suicide hook and a small black swivel will do the trick.
Trolling hardbody lures is a perfect easy option. Already this season the Rapala X-Raps and Halco Laser Pros have been the go-to lures. My trolling spread consists of 5 lures — a Rapala deep diving X-Rap and a Halco 160 deep diver in close, and 2 Laser Pro 190s a fair way back. My shotgun lure is a small pink Hex Head skirt.
Burleigh Gravel Patch, and the 18 fathom and 24 fathom areas off Southport have accounted for heaps of Spanish already. Always keep an eye on your sounder when trolling. I like to mark everything that catches my attention — it could be a reef that is holding schools of bait.
Another fun way to catch these speedsters is high speed spinning. I like to mark my fish on my Lowrance HDS-9 Touch first, and a good quality sounder makes all the difference. Then I drop a 65g metal lure all the way to the bottom floor, then crank as fast as possible with a slight pause. This is very taxing on the body and hip pocket, as some days you will go through metals like pillies!
March should see most of the rivers and creeks running fairly clean again. The Seaway will attract most of the action, as dirty water will meet clean water from offshore. In February, the Seaway was holding big schools of white pillies and this will continue throughout March. Expect to see mac tuna, trevally and yellowtail kingfish gorging themselves silly.
Most of the action usually happens 2 hours either side of top of the tide. Casting 25g metal slugs and 3” white Gulp Minnows are my favourites when chasing surface-feeding fish in the Seaway. Have some fun on light gear too; a 3-6kg rod, 2500 spin reel, 6lb main line and 15lb fluorocarbon leader is all you need.
If the rain continues in March and the water turns dirty and fresh, get your crab pots out and grab a feed of mud crabs. Give deep water crabbing a try. I like to put my crab pots in 20-25’ of water, usually the first deep hole out the front of any creek, canal or river. I prefer an oily bait for my crab pots, from mackerel frames to mullet, or even chicken frames as a great alternative.
Also try slowly hopping soft imitation prawns like Savage Prawn and Zerek Cherabin down rock faces and the many bridge pylons in the Nerang, Currumbin and Tweed rivers this month. These plastics have accounted for a heap of mangrove jacks already. This technique will become more effective in March as the prawns start to run. I like to beef up my line class to 20lb main line and 30-40lb leader when fishing around bridge pylons.
Throwing surface lures is one of the most thrilling ways to target mangrove jacks, as it is visual fishing with a spectacular surface strike. The Nerang River has extensive canal systems with retaining walls, which mangrove jacks love to feed along during low light periods. My favourite poppers are the Yo-Zuri 3D Popper and the Lucky Craft G-Splash. Try long casts along the retaining walls and canal entrances and hold on.
The Gold Coast Sportsfishing Club is holding its second mangrove jack competition on March 22. It’s a great day with like-minded people, so for further information check out their website or their Facebook page.
Aiden Cross with a nice feed of mud crabs.
Expect big numbers of Spanish mackerel off the Gold Coast in March.Reads: 449