I live for March – this is the time of year when just about everything in the world of fishing is fantastic along the NSW coast. The weather is almost perfect, while the fishing is 100% perfect in every department.
The estuaries are firing, and the fish have grown bigger after spending the last few months fattening up on an abundance of food. Flathead are always at the top of the list and this season has been exceptional in the lake with fish up to 80cm caught. Yes that’s right, 80cm. Not massive by other waters’ standards but a fish of 60cm is normally a fist pumper from the lake mainly due to the pressure from commercial fishers. When there are up to 20+ pros out there on any given day you don’t often get a real chance at catching the larger sizes so these reports have been quite extraordinary.
At present the fish seem to be all over the place, with the usual hot spots the drop-off and the deeper spots in the main channel, but any patch of sand or mud is worth a throw. Bream are mostly around the bridges or rocky areas and in the bigger snags in the tributaries. Live prawns are the stand out bait and deliver the best results during the evenings.
A few mulloway have shown up in the main channel but are generally hit and miss, with more misses than hits. Whiting are all over the sand flats, and if you can find some squirt worms you will catch them.
Blackfish are all along the weed edges with plenty gobbling worms, however the good old green weed under the float is my optimal choice. Minnamurra is much the same with some trevally hanging around the bridges; you might even get a jack if you drift live prawns or poddy mullet under a small float into the pylon zone on the run-out tide.
On the beaches the fishing is sensational. Salmon are always on the local beaches but they are thick at the moment with some pushing 5kg. Early mornings and late evenings are always the best times to chase them, however, beaches with deeper gutters will produce them all day.
Chase tailor in the evening and you will find sambos again, with some solid fish to 3kg among them. Pilchards on ganged hooks will score plenty of fish, as will fresh strips of mackerel and yellowtail. Grab some beach worms and you are in for some real fun as the whiting are red-hot all along the coast. Throw in a few dart, flathead, bream, the usual salmon and a few small mulloway and you just can’t go wrong. You may not get all of these on the same day, but you never know – you just might.
A few larger mulloway are about in the deeper gutters on the bigger tides during the evenings, you just have to be persistent for results. Otherwise, you could throw a big plastic about in the deeper gutters and channels if you like to keep active. There is always that thumping by-catch of flathead and salmon and you will tend to avoid the bait grabbing sharks.
On the rocks you’ll find most species, and with the water still warm the deeper ledges will produce just about anything. There is still the possibility of a marlin down around Kiama, and with big mackerel tuna, kings and a few longtails coming through this month, you just have to keep those livies in the water and the results will come. While you are waiting for the livies to go off, continue to throw those metals and poppers towards the horizon for more mac tuna, bonito, salmon, smaller kings and even the longtails. Smaller lures produce frigates and they go straight back out on the heavy gear. If there is a decent king about it will be taken in no time, or if it lasts a bit longer you will probably get sharked.
Schools of baitfish have popped up all along the headlands and slimy mackerel and yellowtail are the main predators that profit from these schools. Underneath the schools are bream, trevally, more salmon, bonito and even a few snapper. The bonito and slimies make great strip baits for all of these so it’s hard to miss out. The oceans are generally calm at this time of the year, which makes it much more pleasant on the rocks. Having said that, never underestimate the ocean, never turn your back and always be cautious.
All the headlands seem to produce, with harbour break walls including Wollongong, Bass Point and Honeycomb performing as standouts while the lesser-known headlands all along the coast are yielding similarly good results. Frigates are zipping in and out of the harbours creating great fun on light tackle and small lures.
Snapper are over most of the reefs from the closer bommies and islands to the 50m mark, and all methods work with some solid fish coming in. The good old flathead are all along the sand patches with excellent size and numbers and they have to be the most popular fish targeted along the coast. There is no finesse in catching them but they certainly taste good.
Over the reefs it is game on with anything liable to grab bait or lure. Teraglin have made a bit of a show for some lucky anglers along with the odd pearl perch, emperor, samsonfish, amberjack, trevally, morwong, snapper, tailor, kings, pigfish and leatherjackets of all types and that is just for the bottom bouncers.
The sport and game fishos have it even better with blue and striped marlin out beyond the 70-fathom line and still a few blacks with them as well in closer. Small to medium yellowfin tuna are about but not in abundance, while striped tuna seem to be all along the coast from in close to the shelf. Wahoo and spearfish are in the mix and there is even the chance of a sailfish if you troll smaller lures or live baits.
There is still plenty of mahimahi around the FADs, and so far there have been lots of bigger fish this season with plenty of smaller legal fish of late. Bonito are all along the coast over the shallow reefs and headlands and they just keep getting bigger as the year rolls on. Bonito really make a nuisance of themselves if you chase kings, as they will smash your larger baits and devour smaller baits like garfish and small yellowtail.
Kings are in the usual spots along with the bonito. Minnamurra, Bass Point, close in around Kiama’s headlands, the islands off Port Kembla and Bellambi are all worth a look for bigger fish. Live frigate mackerel are the gun bait as big kings love them and they are too big for the bonito to steal. Having said that, I once got a 7.5kg bonito on a large live frigate. That’s a big bonito!
Plenty of smaller kings are mixed in with the schools of salmon and bonito smashing on the surface, but they are mostly undersized. The bonito and salmon are decent though, and there is plenty of fun to be had casting lures among the schools.
The hot water has been with us now since mid-January so there is every chance of a stray cobia, Spanish mackerel, rainbow runner and amberjack. A few are caught during March in this neck of the woods and for some lucky souls a northern bluefin could be out there later in the month.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and get them!Reads: 691