March Madness
  |  First Published: March 2006

Fishing in March can be either brilliant or frustrating as we enter the middle of the cyclone season. As many would know, this time of year is also called 'Troppo' season because it is usually associated with endless rain and very hot and humid conditions.

The wet season has well and truly kicked into gear with the Daintree region recently recording 14” of rain in a week. Surrounding areas have registered similar results, which are great for our rivers, and creeks that received a decent flush out. It has also greatly assisted in the breeding cycle of the barra that wait for these very wet periods to start reproducing.

The weather so far this year has been a little unpredictable with rain squalls rolling in and out. This will continue during March with the likelihood that more wind will come in with the rain. Any calm periods that eventuate should be treated as golden opportunities.

In the rivers and creeks now is the time to start pushing further upstream to find those feeder creeks and small waterfalls, which are providing all sorts of food and nourishment for our predatory species. Barra and mangrove jack are the specialists at staking out these posts waiting for an easy feed to come washing their way. It takes some guesswork to find the fish and lure and livebait fishos should both score well in the low light periods of dusk and dawn. For bait fishermen mullet, herring and sardines will be best and for the lure anglers B52s, gold Bombers, C-Lures and the Classic range should work well.

Fish the colour change from dirty to clean water and you’ll find where most of the action is taking place. It normally takes a few days after a big wet before the action begins to fire. There have been plenty of jacks on the chew in the wet conditions this year and one would anticipate the barra to be on fire by now.

After a big rain period the mangrove flats and beaches come alive with the arrival of new food sources. Queenfish, grunter, trevally, blue salmon, tarpon and the odd barra will be on the warpath, particularly on the high tide in the morning. If we start to receive jelly prawn hatches along the coast the action should be relentless on the calm days. Hot spots will include the Mowbray flats, southern Four Mile beach, the flats of Muddy Creek and Cooya Beach, plus Newell and Wonga beaches. Live bait and flyfishers tend to produce the best results at these locations. However the Rocky Point boat ramp is also a likely spot where lure fisherman can have success after a targeting barra during a big wet.

The Snapper Island region is worth keeping an eye on as there has been some explosive action with big queenfish, cale cale trevally and mack tuna gorging themselves on the big supply of bait. Arm yourself with small metal slugs and spin outfits and look for birds feeding frantically on the surface. Cast into them, wind with gusto and then hang on. It’s light tackle sportfishing at it's best in my opinion.

Reef fishing expeditions will be solely weather dependent and it’s quite likely that our reef species will receive more rest than not from the tinny brigade. If the opportunity does present itself deepwater fishing is far more productive in these warmer months than spending time amongst the shallow structures. The bigger coral trout, nannygai, giant trevally and even Spanish mackerel are now being taken in 25–35m of water over rubble patches and isolated bommies. There hasn't been great numbers but the quality is definitely there. There have been some very impressive large mouth nannygai registered to 12kg scored on overnight trips, something that only the brave attempt at this time of year. Be really careful with your weather predictions before attempting any reef trips.

Game operators have experienced a downturn in client numbers over the wet season, however those who have taken the plunge have been rewarded with some great light tackle fishing. GT popper fishing has proven very successful lately which has seen some orchestrated chaos let rip on those pressure points of reef systems. Two to three 20-30kg giant trevally per session certainly has had anglers wilting in the arms. Other than this the yellowfin tuna and dolphinfish have been in solid numbers running along the shelf smashing lures. The occasional sailfish has been caught and released using a garfish rig inside the paddocks. It’s always a bonus to snare one of these beauties as they are not the easiest of fish to catch.

Let's see what the weather brings forth and make the most of those calm weather days. The best case scenario is a week or so of hot, calm conditions which should set the coast alight.

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