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Wet weather gets the mangrove jack fired up
  |  First Published: March 2016



After a great start to the pelagic season, a big low pressure has moved over New South Wales. This system has generated a lot of hot northerly winds, turning the water to a cool green colour and making fishing tough. The cooler green water off the Gold Coast has really made an impact on the mackerel fishing in February, so hopefully we see big southerly blows in March, which will improve the fishing.

Most of the mackerel action has taken place in areas like the Nine Mile and the Fidos off the Tweed, as this water condition has been favourable to the razor gang. Slow trolling live and dead bonito, and slimy mackerel on downriggers have out-fished all other technique. This trend will continue through March as the mackerel get a bit nervous with the boat traffic they tend to hold deep in the water column. Most fishers don’t have downriggers but a simple rig like a size 8 or 12 snapper lead tied to your line with a rubber band about 4m from your live bait is easily homemade. This acts like a downrigger, and works extremely well to keep your baits deep in the water column. Another technique that works well in March is to anchor up and float line pilchards down a berley trail. Quite often you will pick up a few snapper as well.

Places like the Diamond Reef and the 18-fathom Reef off Southport and the Focus Reef off Surfers Paradise are worth a look this month. If the water quality improves don’t rule out spotty mackerel on the close reefs. Palm Beach, Mermaid and the bait grounds southeast of the Seaway are excellent places to get a feed.

The wahoo numbers will increase on the Nine Mile. Troll Hex Heads and Halco Laser Pros at speed to get a few. Another effective technique is to troll small live tuna and bonito. I like to give all my hooks a touch up with a Diamond hook sharpener when I target wahoo. Bottom bouncing often gets over looked due to the mackerel fishing. The close reefs off Southport can be very rewarding this month with good numbers of snapper. Floatline pilchards down a consistent berley trail to get a feed of these tasty red fish.

Inshore

Hot humid days and late afternoon storms have fired up the mangrove jack. March is a great month to target them, and any technique will work. Cast poppers in low light conditions, slow roll plastics under jetties in the daytime, or soak live and dead baits at night. All the river systems from the Tweed to the Coomera River have a healthy population of these great fish. A lot of anglers practice a catch and release policy, which continues the success of the area, however, there is nothing wrong with keeping a couple for a feed.

The whiting in the Nerang River have been in big numbers around the Council Chambers. Fishing the week before and after the full moon with bloodworms and canal wrigglers have produced elbow slappers up to the low 40cm mark. An even more exciting tactic is to catch whiting on poppers. Bassday Sugapen and the Atomic Hardz K9 walker have worked well for me, but conditions are more important and have to be right to catch whiting. Clean smooth water will often get a few followers chasing your lure, but windy and dirty water will get the numbers. Try the sandbanks behind the Tweed Heads golf course, it has great fishing on offer from the bank as well as from a boat. Coombabah Creek is a standout whiting hot spot where poppers dominate.

Mud crabs will be on the move after the February storms. Try to work your pots on the big tides, usually the first of the run-in is the most productive; load up with chicken frames and mullet. If we get any more rain try setting your pots in the deeper holes in front of any creek mouths or river system.

Hinze Dam

Hinze dam has fished well for some big trophy bass and saratoga. Reports are sending anglers to the timbers in the western arm with great results. Cicada profile surface lures and cup face poppers cast tight into the timbers have worked well first thing in the morning. As the sun gets high in the sky, slow roll spinnerbaits along weed edges for some big fat trophy bass. Overall, there are still plenty of options if those pesky northerlies still blow. How good is the Gold Coast?

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