March is often a productive fishing month here in the southwest. This March however, there will be more anticipation than usual as anglers wait to see if last year’s exceptional southern bluefin run will be repeated.
In late March last year Ken Hines and Cameron Ordner started the ball rolling when they landed a magnificent 80kg tuna, which is 2-3 times the size usually encountered in the area. Some sensational tuna were brought to the coast from Port Fairy to Port MacDonald over the following weeks when conditions allowed boats to make the long journey to the shelf.
In previous years’ May and June were regarded as the prime months to target the run of southern bluefin tuna locally and, before last year, the past few seasons had been virtually non-existent. Whether it happens again this year is anyone’s guess but rest assured there will be plenty of boats out looking. Remember though, the southern ocean is no place to muck around. With the huge distances involved in travelling to find fish, local knowledge, big boats with competent crews, heading out in pairs, and good equipment are essential.
If tuna aren’t your game or don’t show up early, there are plenty of other angling options available in March. Settled weather, particularly in early March, allows anglers to continue targeting pelagic sharks and yellowtail. So far this season most of the yellowtail taken locally have been small and haven’t been holding in any particular area for an extended time. Some good snapper continue to be taken offshore but most are in the pinky range of 30-40cm. Schools of salmon to 2kg have also been encountered by anglers travelling offshore. Closer in trevally, King George whiting, pinkies and squid have been prevalent in captures by the smaller boat brigade.
The estuaries haven’t fished too badly over summer and some heavy rain in late January helped freshen things up. Good captures of bream have been reported from Curdies and Hopkins rivers and Yambuck Lake. Estuary perch have also been taken in the Hopkins. March is often a good time to target them using surface lures or baits like black crickets.
Trout fishing the local rivers is generally not a popular option at this time of year, however a burst of heavy rain during summer can provide a temporary increase in water flow, which can induce a hot bite. Watch the snakes at this time of year along the trout streams.
If you are fishing in the area in March, the Hooked on Rods’n’Reels Shipwreck Coast Fishing Classic is on from 10-18 March. This event is open to the general public and is fished in estuary, surf and offshore waters between Port Campbell and Yambuk. The competition is open to both junior and senior anglers.Reads: 409