Is the best month of the year, the fish are out there and it doesn’t seem to matter what your angling preferences might be, there is a species just waiting for you.
The action on the rocks is fantastic with everything from bream to billfish on the menu. For pelagic action the deeper ledges at Honeycomb, Bass point, Windang Island, Bombo, Kiama and Marsdens should have bonito, mackerel tuna, frigates, salmon and tailor on lures.
Live baits like yellowtail and slimy mackerel will take most of the above with the addition of some solid kingfish and longtail tuna with a marlin on the cards.
If you want to soak pilchards or prawns there are bream, trevally, salmon and tailor in the washes and shallower bays all along the coast with most headlands producing fish on any day. Wollongong, Bellambi, Sandon Point and all the ledges to the north seem to be fishing well and there are even a few solid drummer even in the warm water, with the devoted blackfish anglers getting plenty of action towards the end of the month.
It is Heaven offshore with warm water and all those northern visitors giving you so many options you just don’t know what to chase first. If you like chasing inshore speedsters with lures there are striped tuna, bonito, frigate mackerel, mackerel tuna, salmon, tailor, kingfish, rainbow runners and trevally – just look for the birds and any surface activity.
Take a few live baits for larger yellowtail kings among the schools of 58cm and 59cm rats that drive you nuts. There could even be a stray cobia in close mixed in with the kings although they are usually found in small schools by themselves.
Then head out further for mahi mahi around the traps and FADs. Dollies to 10kg are common but you have to be early and have large slimies or yellowtail so the small fish don’t get them straight away.
Over the inshore reefs and beyond there are marlin, mostly blacks, with some monster blues out around the canyons off Stanwell Park and Kiama. Stray sailfish and the odd wahoo are always likely with a few striped tuna and yellowfin.
Back in over the reefs in 30 to 40 metres the snapper have started to show with fair catches of 1kg and 2kg fish with some better reds to 5kg. Lightly weighted tuna pieces in a berley trail are scoring the best results.
A few teraglin have been mixed in with the reds but they have been few and far between, with leather jackets making a nuisance of themselves on some days.
Over the sand, good-sized flathead have been plentiful. While drifting over the reefs you will pick up a few mowies, jackets, samson, trevally and trag.
On the beaches it is heaven with calm evenings and warm mornings making extra-pleasant peak fishing times but you won’t have time to take in the scenery, there are too many fish about.
Get some beach worms and head to just about any beach for whiting, bream, dart, salmon and flathead. Throw in a few pilchards and the tailor should co-operate, particularly in the deeper gutters in the evenings.
A feed of tailor is nice but a fresh slab of tailor fished in one of the deeper gutters should produce a jewie if you are patient. It may not be a monster because there are heaps of schoolies around at the moment which keep your appetite wetted while you wait for the big one.
Take plenty of hooks because whaler sharks have been prevalent on most beaches, particularly those northern beaches that are meshed. It’s funny how you seem to hook so many sharks on these beaches that are supposed to be protected. The shark nets really are a joke.
You have to be desperately unlucky to be grabbed by a shark on a beach in the daytime but there is no way I would swim or surf on any beach, meshed or not, at this time of the year after the sun goes down. That goes for anywhere along the NSW coast.
The Lake Illawarra and the Minnamurra River are still firing with plenty of action on all species. Flathead are on the bite just about everywhere with the usual plastics and the ever-reliable live poddy mullet scoring well.
Good whiting are over most of the sandy patches with the entrances providing top fishing with nippers and worms.
Bream are around the bridge pylons during the evenings with fresh tuna pieces doing the damage. A few trevally are mixed in but they generally find the oysters pretty quickly.
If you want some quiet time, pick a bay and berley with bread and bran and use small pieces of prawn to get mullet and garfish. Not much tastes better than fresh gar and the mullet are tough fighters on light tackle and aren’t bad on the barbie in their own right.
Your fun could be spoilt, though, as the chopper tailor move through to put the mullet and gar off the bite.
The prawns should put in a late run on the next dark and they have been whoppers again this year, so get out the lights and the scoops for some fun after dark.
They’re not worth getting your pants off over, but mack tuna like this are about this month.
You don’t know what you will pick up spinning the rocks in March, possibly even a stray big-eye trevally
It’s even possible you could knock over a large cobia or two as they often show up if the currents are right.
John Henderson was pretty happy with this nice dolly on light tackle.Reads: 558