Settled conditions for the unsettled anglers
  |  First Published: March 2016

The beginning of autumn is here but we’re not going down hill yet. This summer has been an incredible season on many fronts. In March, it’s set to continue with water temperatures warm and hopefully more settled weather.

The estuaries have seen decent amounts of rain, but just little bits at a time. The action has been fairly consistent throughout most creek and river systems with good whiting in the lower estuaries responding very well to surface lures.

The middle and upper reaches have provided plenty of bream action, and once again surface lures have been the weapons of choice. The juvenile jacks have remained in almost plague proportions with larger models quite hard to find. This makes for great fun on the bream gear though. Throwing small lures like the Bassday Sugapen and OSP Bent Minnow can produce a great mixed bag session of bream, flathead, trevally and jacks.

Further up the rivers the bass fishing has been just as hot. Most of the time the bass have been willing to take surface lures, even into the middle of the day. At night, big surface crawlers have been very successful. Don’t be afraid to go big! Lures like the Koolabung Basswalker and Jackall Pompadour Junior may seem too big, but at night they have been my go-to lures, even in skinny water. The Pompadour Junior makes the sound you would expect from throwing a small family wagon into the river with a trailing Christmas sleigh, but it certainly attracts attention and will draw in both small and large fish from far away. You won’t win any finesse awards with shutdown fish, but any fish within earshot that’s on the hunt for a feed will certainly come in for a taste.

Right up the top of the hill the first half of the trout season has been rather quiet. With a little more water in the creeks this past month there have been a few more options for chasing these spotted foreigners. If you have some flexibility in picking your days, try and get up the hill on the overcast days when the fish are more active during daytime hours. You still may need to go subsurface to get the bite, but it’s better than those hot days where they just go into hiding.

Back down on the coast the whiting and bream are in good numbers in the beach gutters with the odd school mulloway throwing in a decent fight on light gear. On the headlands and breakwalls large hardbody lures and soft plastics are producing very consistent results on the school mulloway, but not a lot of larger models.

Land-based options with access to deep water are always an option for chasing mackerel off the stones this month. Stickbaits and hardbodies will cover ground well, but if you can snag a day with offshore winds a drifting live bait under a balloon is very hard for many predators to resist.

In the offshore realm, it has been the continual heavy weather at the start of this year that prevented a lot of fishing. Over the recent weeks though, the weather and swell has settled and the fish are certainly on if you can get out.

Pretty much anywhere from the headlands and inshore reefs out to the islands and deep banks have produced mackerel almost at will. Whether on stickbaits, hardbodies, poppers, jigs or traditional live baits there have been both spotty and Spanish mackerel on the cards.

After being embarrassed by the spotted mackerel sizes last year, the Spanish mackerel seem to have reaffirmed their position as big brother this season. Fish in the 10-20kg class have been regular with a few large 30kg+ fish being reported.

There have still been some kingfish around but fewer decent fish have been caught this last month. This may be due to most anglers chasing mackerel now, rather than kingfish.

Longtail tuna should continue to increase in numbers this month as the East Australian Current reaches its peak flow for the year and water temperatures hit their climax. Really, March is the climax of the summer season in the offshore waters. Now is the time when pretty much everything is on the cards. You could catch mackerel or kingfish, snapper or trevally, mulloway or marlin. Each have their favoured locations and techniques but no matter what you’re doing this month and where, when that line comes up tight, it could be anything on the end.

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