There seem to be fish everywhere so there can be no excuses for missing out this month.
The northern visitors are the main targets, their numbers peaking over coming weeks to give South Coasters a shot where anything is possible. The water offshore is between 23° and 25° so black marlin are on the menu.
There is a tonne of bait in the form of yellowtail and slimy mackerel over most of the reefs so these are the baits of choice – unless you can pick up a frigate mackerel or small striped tuna.
Slow troll one of these live over virtually any recognised area and you are in business for a black. Bandit, Wollongong Reef, the Trap Reef, Southeast Grounds and Kiama are all hot to trot. The marlin this month tend to be larger than in February because they seem to feed up on the easy pickings around the reefs.
If you want to tangle with the big blues this is the time to really get cracking. The canyons off Kiama and along the 200-fathom line are the prime spots. Make sure the tackle is up to the task because these fish can be over 300kg and almost all are over 100kg.
With the hot water come the other speedsters and although I haven’t heard of any wahoo yet, they have been a bit farther up the coast over the past few weeks so there is every chance they will be off the ’Gong this month and there is always the chance of a spearfish or even a sail. I picked one up out on Bandit a few years back that would be lucky to go 10kg and a couple of other anglers had several swimming around their boat the next day, so you just have to be in the right spot at the right time.
That’s what is so good about this month; you never know what will pop up next.
The main drawcard is the same as last month, mahi mahi. So far the fish around the traps and the FAD have been fairly average with the occasional fish over 10kg. Those trolling and live-baiting out around the shelf have picked up the odd dolly over 15kg.
Live baits and pilchards have been the best baits around the traps and FADs but the bait grounds do get a hiding so you have to be up early to get a few.
Some small yellowfin tuna have been picked up out wide along with striped tuna of varying sizes from tiny to over 4kg.
This used to be the top month for yellowfin tuna to 60kg on the inshore reefs but the intense over-fishing of the longline fleet has really destroyed this fishery. Only the odd fish has been taken over the past decade but, being an optimist, there is always the chance that one or two may sneak through the gaps.
In closer there is always the chance of a stray cobia over the close reefs like those off Bass Point and Bellambi, while longtail tuna, mackerel tuna, frigate mackerel, spotted and Spanish mackerel, rainbow runners, samson fish and several trevally species are on the cards.
It’s not just the warm-blooded species that are of interest as the higher water temperatures seem to stimulate the local species into action as well. That mystery fish of these parts, the teraglin, has been captured only incidentally so far but the full moon this month could well be worth a try over the recognised trag bumps. The past full moons have seen a bit of dirty weather so maybe this month it will be kinder.
The bottom bouncers are picking up most of the stray trag and are getting great catches of flathead over most of the sand areas, while the reefs are producing some nice reds, small samson, trevally and a few mowies if you can get through the slimy mackerel.
Yellowtail kings have been raising a few eyebrows lately with some very good fish to 15kg showing up around the reefs and islands. Fish of this size have been very rare for many years but since Christmas there have been some about.
There have also been plenty of rats but 6kg kings are regular captures of late and March has always been a good month for kings.
The regular salmon and tailor have been along the beaches and working the washes around most of the rocky points. Pilchards on ganged hooks are the bait of choice, cast unweighted into the washes.
Some nice bream and trevally are around the washes if you berley with bread and tuna and fish unweighted tuna pieces in the trail. Don’t be too surprised if a snapper gets into the act as there have been a few about, particularly over reefs in 30 metres or less. Most are up to 2kg with a few better fish to keep you on your toes.
Soft plastics seem to be picking up their fair share of reds with one boat fishing in less than two metres of water in a clever spot up north pulling several very large fish in one short session. I suspect they were chasing jew at the time and got a bonus.
Speaking of jewies, some nice fish have been coming off the beaches, with just about any good gutter worth a throw with fresh bait after dark. One very good fish of around 30kg came from a boat fishing late afternoon on a small reef just behind the breakers off a northern beach.
School jew have been around in good enough numbers to keep you interested, between those nuisance whaler sharks that seem to be just about everywhere.
Windang, Warilla and Port beaches still have plenty of whiting with bag limits common lately, while most other beaches have enough for a feed. Worms are essential.
Dart, bream and flathead are also picking up the worms while late evenings and early mornings have been good for tailor and salmon with pilchards.
On the rocks it is all systems go with some good yellowtail kings, bonito, salmon and mackerel tuna taking live baits on the deep ledges of Kiama, Port Kembla and Bass Point.
Lures have been getting smaller kings, frigates, mackerel tuna and a few salmon while the bait-fishos are scoring nice bream in the shallows and washes around Bass Point on royal red prawns. Most ledges have bream, trevally and some nice drummer.
Blackfish are making a move along the rocks and will only get bigger and better over coming weeks. Cabbage and green weed are picking up fish.
In Lake Illawarra the flathead have been a bit spasmodic with plenty of fish one day on plastics and bait and not even a hit the next. There are some nice bream around the rocky shorelines and around the bridge pylons with live prawns the gun bait.
It’s not hard getting a few prawns for bait. The prawns in the lake this season have been monsters with many at 15cm and larger, so it doesn’t take too many to make a feed.
I took my daughter for her first night prawning. It was windy, making it difficult, but we still managed over a kilo in slightly over an hour. Our miss rate was high until she got the hang of it so it wasn’t a bad effort.
Nothing tastes better than a feed of fresh lake prawns you caught yourself. This could be the last good run on the dark so get out and have a look.
Down at the entrance there are some nice whiting taking squirt worms while up in the creeks big mullet will keep you busy if you use bread and bran for berley and fish light.
Minnamurra has quite a few whiting down around the sand flats at the entrance taking nippers while further upstream there are flathead, mostly on live mullet, and bream and the odd trevally around the bridge pylons.Reads: 1359