Warm offshore waters produce goods
  |  First Published: March 2017

March is a month where anything could happen. The offshore fishery is still under a blanket of warm water and the odd spotted and Spanish mackerel turn up along with the small black and striped marlin. The weather settles a bit too, with plenty of opportunity to get out onto the shelf and surrounding reefs. Mixed bags of trag, nannygai, snapper and flathead are supported by morwong and pigfish from the reefs.

Close inshore, trolling will produce plenty of bonito and the odd mac tuna that are great as a cut bait over the reef and hard ground areas. While most anglers are tight-lipped about where they caught their fish, one group let slip that they had been fishing just off Black Head.

The DPI will have their FAD (fish aggregating device) deployed until June when they retrieve it to prevent interference with the whale migration. Until then, and particularly this month, the device will be a fish magnet for baitfish, mahimahi, kingfish and the larger predators like sharks. The FAD is located at 32° 13.211’ 152° 40.680’ approximately 16.5km from Cape Hawke headland.

Shane Crockett of Forster Sport and Game Fishing Charters has been accommodating all manner of clients from game to reef bouncing for the table with a great deal of success.

The lake and rivers are at their best over the next few months, with flathead and bream pushing up into the freshwater wherever they can. The surface action is at its peak, with bream going crazy for popper or cicada pattern lures. Fishing the snags with soft plastics or crab style lures will still catch the bream, but also doubles your chances with a few table-sized flathead. Up the rivers, a crab pot or two will hopefully score a buck muddy, which is just a bonus for the day out.

March is a month I like to gather a bit of bait for the coming tailor season and garfish are the target. A bit of berley over a weedy flat or eddy will have the fish congregating, along with heaps of mullet and pesky small bream. If you can put up with the pests, you’ll end up with a pile of bait or sweet fillets for the table.

The best of the bream fishing in the lake can be done of an evening with yabby or flesh baits drifted along the same sort of structure and racks that you would fish lures during the day. Anchoring up from a lease and drifting your baits along the edge, especially in The Paddock, is ideal if you are looking for a feed. Don’t discount flathead and whiting if you are lucky enough to have some fresh or live prawns in and around The Paddock area.

For those with small boats, kayaks or canoes, the upper section of the Wallingat and Coolongolook rivers are fishing well for bream on surface and you won’t see too many people up that way. Pulling a feed of mud crabs shouldn’t be too much of a drama either.

Blue swimmers in the main lake have been consistent, as most of the illegal poaching has eased with end of school holidays. Set your pots on the drop offs near the weed beds and you should be right. Where there is slight current, even better.

Fishing the rocks you will see a few school mulloway from areas like Elizabeth Beach or North end of Blueys. There are a few pigs moving around with plenty of dart, the odd trevally and chopper tailor. Early morning spin sessions can product some rat kings, mac tuna and bonito, as well as schools of tailor that vary from chopper to kilo models. The shallow broken reef headlands like Diamond Beach and Black Head have a variety of species including pigs, bream and some good sized leatherjackets, so finding a feed from the rocks should be an easy thing to do.

One guy I saw at Janies Corner was fishing the beach with ganged pilchards and he had struck a patch of decent flathead. All four fish were in the 50cm range, and he told me the whiting have been big where he targets them with live beach worms.

So there is no excuse not to find a fish or two this month, it’s just a matter of what you want to target.

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