Well what a month it has been. The offshore season has been an absolute cracker and there is no other way to describe it. The numbers of inshore black marlin have been fantastic once again for local and visiting anglers alike, and they have stretched all the way from Swansea up to Port Stephens.
If chasing marlin is not your thing, then not to worry, you certainly haven’t missed out. Whether it’s the calm waters of Lake Macquarie, the rock ledges, or the offshore blue waters, if you have been out searching for a few fish this past month, odds are you would have been a happy angler on most occasions.
We’ll kick things off with a wrap of the offshore scene, as this is the hot topic of late. Marlin numbers really started to fire towards the end of February, and we have been fortunate enough to see the action hang around throughout March. Generally we would expect the run of inshore black marlin to pretty well finish up as we enter April, but in saying that it only takes a good push of current with bait present for that to change, so keep your eyes on the reports via social media and be ready if they do fire in close.
Bait has been no problems to secure, with large schools of slimy mackerel very common. Anglers concentrating on these bait schools fishing live baits are doing well, but many marlin are falling for trolled skirted lures in that 5-7” size range.
As a general guide, the further offshore you are, the larger the marlin are likely to be. Basically, the inshore grounds in that 20-50f area will hold the smaller 20-60kg blacks, and then as you head a little wider you are likely to run into more sizeable versions and also striped marlin to 100kg.
For those looking for quality rather than quantity, it’s a great time of year to load the heavy 37kg outfits on board, rig the 12-14” lures and punch out to the shelf and around the canyons. You may find fewer marlin, but the upside is the size and species, with big blue marlin now on the cards. It’s certainly no place for the faint hearted, being a long way offshore, the fights regularly going on for hours at a time, and often ending in favour of the fish. This can be disheartening, but when it all comes together it’s just down right mind blowing.
Aside from marlin, mahimahi are also around in good numbers. Not as good as last season, but still well worth the effort, that’s for sure. If you’re limited to the weekends, I certainly suggest getting out there nice and early to beat the crowds. Also don’t be afraid to fish away from the usual FADs and fish traps, as when the crowds are about the larger fish will generally be up to 500m away. Live yakkas and pilchard cubes work very well on these fish, and trolling 4” skirts or flicking soft plastics around can also produce the goods.
Lake Macquarie has been fishing very well over the warmer months. We are now entering into an ‘in between’ season where the winter species are yet to settle in and the warm water action will quieten down a little. In saying that, there is no shortage of fish on offer. The flats are still producing good numbers of bream to 40cm. Shallow diving hardbody lures are working well and surface action is producing on occasions. The whiting have also been on the chew, with some very nice fish falling to the same methods as the bream.
We are now finding that the flathead have basically moved off the flats. Numbers falling for our lures are way down on the past month or so. Over the next month these fish will move into deeper water and for the next few months we will start to find good numbers in deeper areas of the lake, with 6-10m housing many big fish. Just remember that when you do get that big girl to do your best to let her go after a few happy snaps so we can all enjoy this action for years to come.
Working blades or larger soft plastics will be the method I focus on for targeting these deepwater flathead in coming months, and I can assure you there will be more than a few mulloway as bycatch reported this winter, as there is each year.
Many anglers ask me if I really do use scent when fishing or if it’s just an item I sell. I am completely honest when answering this question. I very rarely use scent when fishing hardbody lures in summer, as the fish are hitting the lure as a reaction bite, but as we move into the cooler months and start fishing deeper water, I basically never put a lure out without scent on it. I am a big believer in scent attracting mulloway and flathead in deeper water during the cooler months, so give it a go this year — you won’t regret it.
Coal Point, Green Point, Wangi and Bolton Point are very good areas to concentrate on during these coming months and I am sure they will produce again this year.
Squid have been in abundance over the past couple of months. Anglers are getting their bag limits within an hour at times. Most are arrow squid and not overly large, but they are very tasty, that’s for sure, and also the perfect bait size for a mulloway session. Green Point in the north part of the lake and also the drop over has been producing the goods. Squid jigs in pink, orange and green in size 2.5 have done very well.
The rock and beaches have generally been a little slower than we generally see at this time of year. The fish are there, but anglers are certainly working for their results. The bonito and kings have been about and there have been some great numbers and sizes mixed in. Anglers working metal lures and a variety of stickbaits have scored well on these pelagics. Metals in the 20-45g range and stickbaits around 100-120mm are working.
Some good bream have also been landed off the local rock ledges, with peeled prawns on 1/0 baitholder hooks proving effective. Anglers working for a feed of bream have found that a good berley mix usually improves results. A mix of crushed up pilchards, tuna oil and some pellets or bread dropped in periodically certainly helps.
This trevally off the flats was welcome bycatch during a bream session on hardbody lures.
Dan Guilfoyle with one of the many solid snapper he has managed of late out of his 4.1m Polycraft.Reads: 449