If you can drag yourself away from the Commonwealth Games, March usually offers some great fishing action in the southwest, particularly for saltwater anglers. With holidays earlier than usual because of the Games, anglers can take advantage of warm water species that often disappear before Easter.
The summer has seen a proliferation of snapper along the coast, from close inshore reefs and off the beaches, to the deepwater past the 40m line. Virtually any of these areas from Port Campbell to Port Fairy will produce fish, the main variable being the size of the fish in the school.
Sometimes you’ll be plagued by small fish in the 25 to 35cm bracket, while other trips to the same area can produce better quality fish of between 40 and 55cm. Pinkie sessions might also see you encounter a number of other species: silver trevally, salmon, large King George whiting, snook, kingfish, squid, warehou, barracouta, thresher sharks, pike, cowanyoung, gummy sharks and blue throat wrasse. They’re just some of the species that tend to swallow baits intended for pinkies. Add rays and sharks and you can see why pinkie sessions are rarely dull.
March often produces weather that makes pursuing offshore species a real option. The odd kingfish has been taken along the coast this year, but so far numbers have been pretty thin compared to other seasons. There have been plenty of sharks around to make up for it though.
Blue and makos of various sizes have been encountered in depths from 40 to 70m lately while thresher sharks have been working the snapper schools closer inshore.
Blue sharks might not be much fun on heavy gear aimed at mako sharks but on lighter gear they can be entertaining. If one swims up the berley trail to the back of the boat then at least you’ve got time to select an outfit that’s suited to the size of the shark.
How well an estuary fishes often depends on whether the mouth of the river is open or has been closed for some time. Often, a river that has had a low summer flow has a blocked mouth. The resulting high water levels often lead to ordinary fishing due to the lack of tidal flow, reduced access and more water between the fish.
Many rivers locally have had their mouths blocked for a considerable period of the summer and may not be fishing too well come March. The exception is probably the Moyne, which with the breakwalls at the mouth, always has a flow of tidal water in and out. Easy bank access makes it a popular holiday destination.
Fishing can be hot and cold in the Moyne although there’s a wide variety of species that makes up for it, and generally means there’s something on the chew. At this time of year, expect to tangle with mullet, trevally, small salmon and snapper, with the outside chance of a decent bream or mulloway. The hour either side of a change of tide is the best time to fish.
Trout fishing the local rivers isn’t a popular option at this time of year, however a burst of heavy rain from a summer storms can increase in water flows, which can induce some hot bites. Watch out for the snakes at this time of year along all of southwest trout streams.Reads: 471