Spots out of the wind seem to be the order for most of March, but we usually get a few good days between blows. There will be mackerel, sweetlip, cod, parrot, trevally, cobia and coral trout at plenty of spots around the local islands and reefs.
The temperatures have dropped a bit and fishing on the closer patches should get better. For most of the year the rule ‘the wider, the better’ applies for big reds, rosy jobfish and the bigger sweetlip, however from now until August is the exception.
When you get to a chosen destination we have found that there is no point stopping unless there are fish on the sounder. It doesn’t have to be big stuff, a bait school is still worth a drop. Sooner or later the predators turn up and the action will start. Deepwater knife style jigs are becoming more popular as more local anglers find new ways of nailing the big one. There are times when they will beat baits, but it isn’t always the case.
Trevally are one of the top sportfish in our region and from now on they come through in vast numbers which can be quite annoying when you’re chasing better tablefish. The major appeal of trevally is their fighting qualities and if eaten very fresh they are passable. Trevors will grab lures or bait in shallow or deep water. Poppers take this to a new dimension when you can see them nail one right beside the boat.
The white wash coming off the rocks around The Keppels will be worth a shot in March. Cast right into the wash as close as you can to the rocks and retrieve quickly in an erratic manner. Shimano TSS4 6-1 ratio or Penn 750 Spinfisher reels attached to 8-10kg spin sticks have been the best. This is one time that spinning reels can out perform overheads. Trevally take 100-200 mm Poppers in green, gold, pink or red and white colours.
Spanish mackerel have been everywhere with some horse cobia smashing anything looking like bait and really testing terminal tackle. The better baits are pillies, bonito and ribbonfish until the little whitebaits move in.
Mack tuna and northern blues are arriving in large numbers following the baitfish schools. The average size of the baits is about 50mm. Tunas and mackies tend to avoid the bigger chrome slugs and jigs in favour of smaller chromies. Flashas, Bumper Bars and Lasers have working well but red and white feather jigs should still be a part of the tackle box.
School mackerel have started to move in from the wider areas. Soon they will be at nearly all the local doggie hotspots. Schools of spotted mackerel have been moving into the bay in small numbers. As March wears on spotties should show up at their usual spots. Spotties don’t hang around for long until later in the year.
Joining the usual run of pelagic species in the area are juvenile black marlins from 1.5-3m. Marlin are becoming a regular feature in weekend hook-ups. More often than not they’re lost by fishos not prepared for any fish of that size. There aren’t the numbers to justify targeting only marlin near The Keppels, however they will take lures and trolled baits meant for wahoo and Spanish mackerel. Take out the heavy gear and troll a little faster when you hear they are in the area.
There are some major tackle busters around the islands at present proving way too big for ordinary sized tackle. One fish tore 300m of 50kg braid before straightening all four HD5/0 hooks in a gang and another ripping out 60-70m of 120lb before breaking the 60kg wire trace. These fish were way too quick for sharks and never looked like slowing down.
Good-sized salmon continue turning up in the Fitzroy River in small numbers. Barra, mangrove jack, fingermark, bream, flathead and mudcrabs have been down in the Port Alma area. Mudcrabs were in supply again lots of good-sized bucks heading for the cooker.
Last week’s rain moved them downstream from previous weeks and the mouths of the creeks should be the place to try first up. Problems with share farmers have slowed considerably and the pot watchers are going to continue their vigil until the last few have been nabbed.
Bream, trevally and flathead have been available at Coorooman Creek, The Causeway, Lake Pumpkin Creek and the Narrows. Some nice sized prawns were also scored.
Corio Bay and Waterpark Creek have shown a bit of promise with some queenies and small trevally taken on Flashas at the heads.
Grunter remain on the increase in Waterpark, Fitzroy and Coorooman. Some of the grunter taken in the previous few days weighed around 2-3kg. They took decent frozen river prawns over other baits. They can be nailed on greenback herring, small poddy mullet, squid and occasionally on pillies. Look for holes or cockle beds and even drop offs along mudbanks. Grunter feed around the full moon and in some places they also like to chew on the dark nights.
It pays to get to know the tides and the channels in the areas creeks very well. It’s easy to get caught in with nowhere to go until the tide comes up again. We went chasing barramundi up in Deep Creek one day without taking much notice of the tide level and had to wait for 4 hours before the tide reached a level high enough to leave the creek and cross the bay back to Sandy Point. This took some explaining to the wives who had planned an evening out. There are a lot of other places just as treacherous where you need to be careful. Nothing is worse than getting stuck with no place to move to and a swarm of biting buggers harassing you.
Several of Corio’s tributaries are traps for the uninitiated, not to mention the boat ramps at Fishing Creek and Kelly’s Landing. I have come across blokes that are up to their doors, stuck fast with an incoming tide. If you don’t know the launching spot at Fishing Creek then watch someone else do it first. Do not leave your vehicle idling as the vibration just digs you deeper into the sand. Don’t launch the boat on the bottom or at the start of the run-in on a low tide. These tips can save you your car, your embarrassment, or at the very least it can save you from buying a carton for the guys that pull you out. Don’t laugh if it hasn’t happened to you because you could be the one either in trouble or saving a stuck vehicle in the future.
Check all your equipment on a regular basis. The Coast Guard shouldn’t have to waste time and effort towing back people with minor problems that could be found in regular servicing. The other thing that accounts for a share of the tow-ins is running out of fuel. When you choose a destination you should already know how much petrol you’ll need. If you don’t know, do some close in trips and take note of consumption. Then add a fair percentage of extra fuel to cater for the unknown, a bit of trolling or chasing fish and possible weather turns.
On a trip to the wides recently, we used 70L on the way out punching into 1-2m swell and on the way back we used 36L in a following sea. Those fuel figures made us realize how far out you can be with fuel quantities. Take more fuel than you need because conditions may mean it takes a bit more to get home than you would normally use. The fuel you don’t use won’t go to waste, put it in the car or the mower where stale petrol isn’t so critical. Remember the advert on TV – you can’t walk home from a boating problem.Reads: 990