Silver thrills and red ones
  |  First Published: March 2005

March is time for beach jewfish and offshore snapper.

Over the Easter break I’m usually found down Ulladulla way after those beautiful azure-dappled reds. I just love it when they come spiralling up from the depths after a screaming run and a hard, slogging fight. Off Bannister Head I have been blown away by fish that I’m sure were as big as a Government bus.

For the local beach jew, I’ve pencilled in March 23, 24, 28 and 29 in the diary with their late evening tides. Mullet will be the bait, scaled, de-finned and rigged on a double 10/0 hook system. You don’t have to cast out far – it’s surprising how close these big predators come to shore.

Remember, as soon as a jew hits – strike! The myth that you should let a jew run with the bait before setting the hook is a load of old cobblers. Many a jew has been lost as the fish engulfs the bait, turns, runs and then spits it.

Beaches such as Curl Curl, North Narrabeen, Long Reef, Newport and the northern end of Palmy have all produced these wonderful bronze freight trains for me over the years.

There has been some exciting kingfish activity at West Reef on an outgoing tide. Baits and especially jigs have worked well on these 40cm to 70cm thugs.

The method is simple. Drop any chrome jig or large soft plastic to the bottom and then just use the rod to bounce it up and down. The hits are hard with no warnings and no beg-your-pardons.

There are heaps of whiting on most of the Barrenjoey Peninsula beaches right now and they are right on the chew. Fish are not big and some have to be measured (minimum 27cm) before keeping.

Worms are the el-primo bait. Tackle shops know this and most are stocked up with blood, beach and tube worms. Quality flathead have been a welcome by-catch.

Just to show it was no fluke, Alex Bellissimo landed another 18kg mulloway off the rocks at Mona Vale on a large mackerel fillet. Alex is averaging a jew a week with a promise of even better averages next season. His secret? Fresh bait and put in the hours.


Two reports of jewfish taken from our famous Hawkesbury River. The Terrible Two, Greg and Tim Minors, landed jew from the northern end of Flint and Steel while Mick Martinez this season has landed 15 mulloway up to 30kg from Juno Point on fresh squid. A lot of time and preparation go into Mick’s fishing trips but the rewards have been there.

Jewfish have been landed from other boats but there have been tales with sad endings as fish spit the hook or roll and snap the line.

At the time of writing, the accursed wind has postponed more fishing trips than I could have possibly imagined. I don’t mind fishing in the rain or even in the hot sun but strong wind is a pain. When the wind starts to get a bit of west in it, it’s hard to find a lee. The boat swings at all angles, tangling lines and fraying tempers.

You don’t have to be talented to catch fish. Russ Walton, the proprietor of Barrenjoey Boating Services at Palm Beach, hired out a small tinnie to two overseas visitors for a couple of hours. When they returned, they showed two flathead around 2kg each to Russ and asked, “Are these fish edible?”

I flicked soft plastics on a windy day in the lee Wakehurst Parkway recently. Two flathead and a heap of tail-less lures as small chopper tailor rendered the plastics unusable were the upshot of the morning.

Bream were about but were not keen to take even the smallest lure in the bag. All around me, mullet were leaping joyously, doing nothing to ease the pain of no fish. One kayaker told me of whiting schools near the Pittwater Bridge making their way out to sea.

• Monthly tip: I always take along two spin sticks. When fish are breaking the surface everywhere and it’s complete mayhem and I have a bird’s nest or line breakage, I just reach for the spare rod and get straight back into it again.

When things go quiet, I can then do my running repairs.

The rocks are producing some big jew but large baits are a prerequisite for the bigger fish.

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