This month is, according to my records, fantastic time for offshore work. The weather has usually settled down by now with weaker nor’-easters and balmy nights.
Jewfish have always been my prime target in March and reefs like Reggies, Esmeralda, East Reef, Long Reef and even the Wrecks at Narrabeen usually produce the goods. As usual, live bait will give the most opportunity with squid and slimy mackerel my prime choices.
Cuttlefish can be a problem; killing baits with one savage bite, but it pays to persevere as jew are usually not far behind. If you get out early before nightfall to these reefs, don’t forget to berley up and float down a pilchard or garfish. Big snapper often frequent these spots as well.
It has been a super year for kingfish. A chap called Lance bagged an 85cm specimen on live bait just off the tip of Barrenjoey that gave him a merry little dance before it was finally subdued, bled and iced. The abolition of kingfish traps is now paying dividends and the fish are getting bigger year by year.
This means we all have to upsize our tackle to cope with the sheer brute strength these fish possess. A minimum of 15kg tackle is needed for offshore work with a 24kg trace to take the punishment. Some kingfish are so big a tourist coach and steel cable wouldn’t stop them. These fish are hard to restrain from a trailer boat. Places like The Whale off Dee Why, The Slaughterhouse abeam of Mona Vale and just off the headland at Bungan all harbour big kingfish.
Most beaches, except maybe for Dee Why and Curl Curl, have mainly been disappointing, producing only whiting now and then. There have been fish caught but a lot of throwbacks have been encountered. Dart seemed to be in plague proportions and getting to baits before our targeted species. The saving grace has been the surf bream that give a good account of themselves in the suds.
The rock platforms, such as Curl Curl and Warriewood, have performed very well so far with consistent catches of black drummer, kingfish, tailor and the occasional salmon. Brendan fished the rocks just up from North Narrabeen using bread berley mixed with royal red prawn meat and scored himself two good drummer that tipped the scales at just over 2kg each.
Plate-size snapper have come from the southern end of The Hole in the Wall at Avalon but a fair cast is needed to land baits past the snags and into the sandy hollows.
If you have had witches’ hats out for the blue swimmer crabs in Pittwater, Cowan Creek or the Hawkesbury, you would be sick of the taste of crabmeat by now. This has been one of the best seasons I can remember for our little hard-shelled friends. The good news at the time of writing is they are still going gangbusters although some of the jennies (females) are berried (carrying eggs) and must be returned.
School jewfish are swimming in the current line off Gunyah Beach and Walker Point. Squid would be the best bet here, peeled and cut into strips with the end tasselled to give the bait animation. Wobby Shore and The Vines are worth a mention for bream, although catfish are attacking baits that rest on the bottom for a while.
Just off Long Nose Point in Pittwater, there has been a flurry of very early morning kingfish that are responding well to flies and surface poppers. If you are after fish for the table, the moorings in the Basin and also at Clareville have produced some honker bream after dark. Try strips of raw chicken on a 1/0 hook with little or no weight.
As I write this column, the entrance to Narrabeen Lake is still closed and lake levels are well above normal. It worries me that the lake is not being flushed – it could lead to algae blooms, weed infestation and myriad other problems associated with stagnant water. However, bream are still willing to jump on to lures and baits off the regular places like Pipe Clay Point, Jamison Park and in front of Woolworths.
Big river garfish are suckers for bread baits, as are the large fan-tailed and bully mullet. The warm weather is keeping flathead in the shallows as they lie in wait for a tardy poddy mullet to leave the school and go exploring.
Just a reminder that my three Monday evening fishing clinics are on again from March 10 at North Narrabeen. Call Mark on 9970 6204 to reserve a spot.
The debacle regarding boat launching facilities for the northern end of Pittwater, sparked off by the closure of the ramp at Careel Bay, continues with Waterways promising to fund any building to the tune of 50%. The heat is now right on Pittwater Council to get together all interested parties and agree on a location that will comfortably serve the trailer boat community with good launching and easy parking facilities.
Drag settings should not be a, ‘that-should-be-roughly-OK’ affair. Invest in a spring balance and set the drag to exactly one-third of the breaking strain of the line by tying the line to the balance and then taking up tension.
If using 9kg string, make sure the drag just slips when 3kg is shown on the balance. That way you know that, when you have a fair bit of line out (which drops the breaking strain of line dramatically), you can still fight the fish and have comfort in the thought that you are well within the limits of the line.
The author attached to a bullocking kingfish that engulfed a Slug-go lure early in the morning.
Taking kids fishing off any of the many jetties and wharves around out magnificent waterways is very rewarding.Reads: 1156