March madness
  |  First Published: March 2006

March is one of the best times to get out on the water. It’s the turning point for the cycle of offshore currents that flow up and down our coastline.

An incredible amount of baitfish move back and forth within these currents at times which is great for anglers. In March you can hit currents in closer then usual and pelagic fish such as marlin, mahi mahi, kingfish, tuna, tailor, bonito and a wide array of smaller fish get caught in the currents.

Explaining the way a fish highway works is easy, especially if you have watched Finding Nemo. A small sequence of the film shows a current as it sweeps up the coast with fish getting caught in it.

When you’re on top of the water planing across it in a boat, the current can look like a nice smooth stream running through the sea, but at other times it can be a opal blue or green coloured change. Sometimes it can be found by the amount of debris or weed or rubbish in a line way out to sea.

Throughout March you can come across currents of varying temps and colours, and if all goes well most will be in close enough for small trailer boats to find. March is known for having currents that bounce off headlands. Land-based game fishing is always worth a try in March.

Recent reports have included some sensational catches and I am putting it down to really warm water and a good current flow sending the fish crazy. Baitfish have been around in great numbers offshore and near the Hunter estuary. Anglers love it when the bait is in town because it’s a great drawcard for predatory fish, slimy mackerel, hordes of yellowtail. Herring is one of the best flathead live baits that appeal to a number of other species as well.

The Hunter River has been boiling with herring and small slimies. Large schools of mack tuna have been smashing into them inside the harbour and throughout Stockton Bight. I spent a whole day chasing them once and hooked only two – at times tuna are very lure-shy. Use small slender chrome lures or barrel sinkers painted silver or brilliant white for best results.

Live-baiting around the pylons of Stockton Bridge with herring, my wife and son took two nice bream that munched on the herring strips until they found the 2/0 suicide hook. The very next day we caught nine bream to 1kg fishing herring in Lake Macquarie.

My pick for March would be to head offshore and troll lures, dead baits, live slimies for pelagics, especially mah mahi and tuna.

If you’re lucky you might even bump into a marlin heading back up north with the warmer currents. Fishing off a headland or island where the current is being deviated may find some snapper, some big bream or a few tailor in the afternoon.

Merewether Reef and down to Redhead has been producing good squire and snapper.

Its pays to put in the effort and find some small live herring, mullet, yakka and live bait in the Hunter River mouth for jewfish and oversize flathead.

Flathead are still drifting around the 40 to 80ft mark in Stockton Bight. It isn’t hard to get a bag although most are just legal. Bream have shown around the mangroves and the northern channel rockwall in the Hunter. Mosquito Creek is a good place to start with peeled prawns or fresh cubes of bait.

The Basin has been fishing well at night with a few boat crews turning up at the ramp with some nice bream and flathead on lures.

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