Good garfish and mighty marlin
  |  First Published: March 2017

March is one of the better times of the year for stability. The crowds are here and steady, the weather starts to stabilize and we experience perfect days with perfect sunsets.

Although it took until the end of January for the marlin to kick in as predicted, February was going to be the month that they started to stick their beaks into gear. This worked out perfect for Batemans Bay’s Tollgate Classic which was cancelled in January due to weather and then moved to mid February when the marlin were biting their heads off. The move of the 2017 Tollgate Classic to February is going to be permanent. It sits well with the area and when the fish are at their best.

This March we should see plenty of marlin off our coastline. It will be well worth the day on the shelf, especially if we start to see some stability in the weather, which let us down a little during January and February with it being a bit windy at times.

The stability also means plenty of opportunity to deep drop for blue-eye trevalla, harpuka, gemfish, ling and the ever-consistent ocean perch. Rohan Griffo has been onto some nice blue-eye, and Dave Scott has pulled up some mammoth ling. Get out there if you have an electric reel, because it’s fishing well.

The main event last year off the south coast was the daytime swordfish. After last year’s efforts and lessons, we should see an attempt by many other anglers at this pinnacle of fishing. We held successful talk nights on swordfish at the Compleat Angler stores up and down the coast last year, and we’re well stocked with what you need to catch them.

Inshore reefs have seen a better snapper bite of late and that should be consistent over the March period if you are willing to comb the depths and I’m talking 80-100m. It’s good to flick a few plastics in the shallows during dawn and the early hours as you start to move out. Once the day moves on, so should you, as there are some nice school fish out in those depths if you are ready to move around a bit to find them.

What are always moving around? Kingfish. There’s still no real place they are holding off the Batemans Bay Coast. We are getting schools off Grasshopper and Wasp islands, passing by Yellow Rock, Black Rock, Pretty Point, Jimmys and Burri. They’re not holding anywhere any longer than a day or two. A few have been caught off Broulee and Moruya but not in good numbers or sizes.

The best way to get onto these guys is to troll these areas with lures, slow troll livies with a downrigger or rubber band a big snapper lead to your swivel to get your bait down and cruise your boat with it just in gear travelling about 2 knots. If you fail on the snapper and kingfish and still want a feed, flathead have been very reliable.

Squid are also great to eat and have been in large numbers. There are masses of small squid from Broulee to Congo and larger ones have been found from Depot to Murramarang Boat Ramp. With this much squid around you can see why the snapper are on. Now we just need the kings to come around.

Off the stones you have a higher chance of nailing snapper. Last year there were more snapper caught land-based than there were kingies. A few kingies have been caught off Snapper Point and Pretty Point, but the snapper look to outdo them again this summer.

A few anglers have been running around catching crabs and snapping 10-15kg rated rods on grouper lately. Jono Bunn has been in search of a big blue and has succeeded with a couple of recent captures and a few snapper and mowies. His best grouper so far went just under 10kg. Live crabs are the most reliable bait for grouper and a lot of other species such as snapper and big bream will happily take to them as well.

On our beaches we have seen a good consistent run of whiting up to 40cm. Tuross, Broulee, Durras and Bawley areas are all good places to visit if you want to increase your chances of whiting. These places are probably good due to the presence of beach worms that are in these areas and nippers, which are another great bait for whiting and can be caught on our sand flats.

If you don’t get onto some live bait buy some beach worms or the Marukyu plastic worms. Along with our summer run of whiting, there have been occasional salmon, tailor, flathead and plenty of bream. Of a night and late evening we have had a good little run of mulloway and plenty of sharks on the beaches. There were a lot of bronze whalers around in the last few summers and this March you’ll have no problem finding them around that 1m range while night fishing the beaches. They haven’t been fussy either – squid or pillies will do.

If you’re struggling with the bread and butter species like flatties and bream, switch to garfish or octopus if that tickles you. The estuaries are always alive at this time of the year and we have had a lot of customers struggle with the typical species that they are use to.

The estuaries beaches and ocean have been full of garfish. We are noticing plenty of octopuses, plenty of perch still hanging around, big flounder, mud crabs and a good run of blue swimmers. If you aren’t having luck chasing the usual flattie or bream, come in and we will help you try another direction that can yield good results, and you’ll have fun doing something different.

Further upstream the bass are still biting their heads off, and Tim Stalewart and Raymondo Smith have spent most of their summer up there throwing Tiemco Soft Shell Cicadas, Kokoda Bats and AusSpin spinnerbaits at them with great success. They have been doing night sessions casting into the middle and wrestling eels as they have been getting smashed by big bass.

March is probably the best time of the year. Get out there and get on it!

• For more up-to-the-minute information on what’s biting where, drop into Compleat Angler Batemans Bay and have a chat to Anthony or one of the other friendly staff. They’re located at 65A Orient St, Batemans Bay (02 4472 2559).

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