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Time to brave the high seas
  |  First Published: March 2015



March is a period of happiness and sadness for Tasmanian anglers. Happiness for the anglers who rely on warm currents or warm weather as there is still some of that, sadness for those anglers who love their daylight savings as March has the days noticeably shorter working to the date in April when we play with the clocks. Do not despair, as there is still lots and lots to enjoy angling wise.

KINGFISH

Kingies are still about and the angler who found them early will be honing their skills to perfection. While being a species of fish that feeds hard when hungry, they can also frustrate anglers when sighted by not nailing any of our offerings.

The shore-based angler must look for some points or areas that promise some reef and broken ground. Look for some water movement in those times you try your luck and be prepared to up your retrieve to incite a bite. I am not sure if it’s the speed news travels now days, but it would seem there are more kings being caught and this year they look to be of better size. Traditionally they have always been found travelling with the schools of upsized salmon, but they are really making Tasmania home of late and you expect to catch them well into March.

Locating a pocket of kings is best done with lures and soft plastics. Offerings that will take a bit of pace as you wind them in swiftly. Soft plastics that are elongated will work well.

The numbers of fish reported in early February and the varied and different locations they were caught suggest a session in the boat would be a great deal of fun. Lures that you would use for salmon are fine and so are the rods and reels. Be warned though, an upsized specimen of 10kg will take you to task quickly on such gear and will be a lot of fun.

If you are trying to target the bigger fish that have been about this year, I’d opt for a deeper diving lure with a badly wounded fish action. Slow trolling squid tentacles and small live baits on down riggers is a proven way to catch big yellowtail kingfish on the mainland, so maybe it’s time we gear up for that in March…

YELLOWFIN

March is the time of year serious offshore game fishers huddle around rocking backwards and forwards mumbling about fish with a tinge of yellow in the fins. The mighty Thunnus albcares or yellowfin tuna is on everyone’s minds. It’s a fish that is very much sought after and a prize trophy.

Pound for pound, these babies are the fastest and the most agile of all the tuna we face here in Tasmania. To land a good-sized yellow is an angling feat not a whole heap of Tasmania’s can lay claim to. When they do you can often tell, as they have their chests puffed out so far they can over balance and fall over…

In all seriousness, the yellowfin is a true athlete of the ocean and is also fantastic eating when looked after. It is actually a fact that after a big battle tuna species can suffer what is known as ‘burnt tuna syndrome’. This is where the fish has over heated in the battle and continues to do so while on the deck after capture. This can leave the flesh tasting muddy and not very appealing. If you go to the trouble of catching it, a little more trouble won’t hurt to make sure you have some ice. Don’t be one of those people who complain about the bad taste after leaving the guts in the fish all day on the deck of your boat.

Yellowfin love a temperature break and current line. If you find some water that is dramatically hotter (4-6°C) than where you just come from and work up and down that area until you can get a sense of where that temperature break is and where it runs.

You can use the sounder to plot marks and instead of naming them just log the temperature readings. You will soon get a picture of what might be going on around you. While traveling and plotting, keep an eye open for bait schools as well. If you start to have a temperature break and some bait, you have found an area that is worth working over. Come over the ground from all angles working the bait from the warmer water to the colder and vice versa.

Yellowfin are also a species of fish that don’t mind traversing the shallow ground to get to where they want to go. Many spots along the East Coast of Tasmania have held and had yellowfin feed in water as shallow as 50m.

Don’t get hung up on any special lure needed to target yellowfin in Tasmania. If you have a good spread of lures that mimic the Tasmanian pelagic bait you are on the money. A couple of brown and light orange skirts will keep you in good stead as they will replicate the squid we start to see offshore and around in March.

It has been a while since we have seen a good run of ‘yellas’ in Tasmanian shores. When we do see them they are normally good-sized fish of 50kg or better. With the water temperature and quality we had out wide in February, I am going out on a limb and suggesting we may see some this year.

Don’t let me down though, get out and drag a spread! Destinations like Bicheno and Triabunna are prime yellowfin haunts. They are also great places to take the family while you are draggin’ lures for hours offshore.

MARLIN

We have more marlin in our waters than any of us give credit for. The waters wide of St Helens, Bicheno and Triabunna in March need more boats out with the right gear having a red-hot crack.

The lion’s share of the blue water anglers in Tasmania open their accounts on early season mako sharks then cool their heels until the albacore and then SBTs arrive further south.

There is a fantastic striped marlin fishery going to waste. The fish caught in close around St Helens each year are incidental catches and those willing to gear up and fish wide in the blue water on and just wide of the shelf will be rewarded. Just imagine if we started talking about the yellowfin as marlin by-catch!

Teasers are where it is at when trolling for marlin. Mirror teasers, daisy chains, Boone Birds, Marlin Mudflaps... it doesn’t matter. As long as you have something creating a splash and surface disturbance, you are on the money.

Lures can be a mix of your skirts that have proven to match the local bait and a couple that are a little larger than the norm. Slipping a couple of bigger lures into the spread on short corner and short rigger won’t hurt. Make sure they are a quality lure from a decent manufacturer. They will need to work well, cup lots of water and as they go under the surface pull down bubbles to create a smoke trail.

Now’s the time to get out off St Helens and Bicheno and find a hot arvo bite!

TRIABUNNA SEAFEST

Triabunna and the Seafest format not only caters for the game fishing club members but also caters for the anglers who just want to come along and have a go.

March should have the waters of Triabunna and offshore of Maria Island teeming with life. The anglers last year all hit the shelf and many did quite well. The weather was perfect and this allowed traveling to the shelf with ease, but there are plenty of excellent sports fish to be found in and around Maria Island and the 100m line towards the shelf.

The offshore fishing section will be run by Tasmania’s biggest growing game fishing club. The Game Fishing Club of Northern Tasmania is enjoying a fantastic resurgence in family values and fun with some fishing mixed in. The club is affiliated with the Game Fishing Association of Australia and the I.G.F.A.

The Club is a great place to pick up some tips and learn some tricks to help you better find fish and land them once you do. The emphasis on family fishing is evident with junior and female members holding current State, National and world records.

There is a separate section for those non-members and the prize list for this category has grown with the interest it has generated. This year will also see a fun fish for kids and a section for those that would just like to fish the bays or sheltered waters around Maria Island.

MAST will again join FishCare and TARfish to provide static displays, information and practical demonstrations. These bodies do a magnificent job within Tasmania and Seafest is looking forward to their involvement.

There has been considerable support from local Tasmanian business to add to the very generous backing of several big national companies. The committee has worked hard once again to put on a series of events during the day that will keep the kids and relatives amused for hours. Rural Alive & Well is onsite again with their kids casting competition that was supported generously by Wilson Fishing.

This will be just one chance for those on the shore to take home a prize. Boat displays and a number of marine and fishing vendors will also be onsite. The small community of Triabunna has embraced this event and the crew of dedicated helpers ensure that Seafest 2015 will be a ripper.

Make sure that you keep the weekend of March 27-29 free and get along to Triabunna Seafest 2015!

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