Something out of the hat.
  |  First Published: March 2005

This time of year is perfect for everything. It’s my favourite time of the year because the climate is comfortable and there is a chance you could catch anything.

The warm water is still lingering and more consistent offshore so the likelihood of teasing a black or big striped marlin to strike is increased. Mahi mahi continue to mill around fish traps and the Fisheries FAD with small to medium kings adding spice to the mix.

The whole offshore food chain is pumping along nicely and bonito, slimy mackerel and gars are all nervously thankful for another day breathing.

There have been reports of beakies smashing up baits and hooking up close offshore.

Often the reason for spending hours of your life and hundreds of dollars trolling and fishing for marlin or other game fish can be elusive until the line starts to pour from the reel. Great Lakes Tackle owner Lloyd Campbell and others have had a few trips recently and raised a couple of fish, and their heart rates. Striped marlin over 100kg and smaller blacks are around in enough numbers to provide the answer to why these blokes keep doing it.

The reef fishos have been pulling pearl perch, a few trag, flathead and small snapper from the reefs south of Forster while Blackhead has fished spasmodically for mixed reef bags. It is all about timing your trip and trying to avoid the wild weather the north-easterly winds can whip up.


The definite highlight to my month will be the blue swimmer crabs I’ll be targeting around Wallis Island. The weedy fringes are crawling with swimmers and they are easily encouraged into a baited witch’s hat. I prefer water from two to four metres deep with weed or at lease a weedy fringe. Any fresh fish frames will work a treat with my favourite being blackfish.

Flathead are still prevalent with good numbers of 40cm to 50cm fish taking up spots along the shallow channel edges.

Bigger fish are holding in the deeper channels and holes in the lower section of the lake and the best way of targeting them at this time of year is a drifted live mullet. Sure, they can be tempted with a big, deep-diving hard-body like a Rapala Shad Rap or a big plastic, but a lively mullet kickin’ on the bottom tends to be irresistible.

Targeting trophy fish is an adrenalin rush but releasing the same fish after a quick pic is as big a thrill, knowing you have achieved your goal without the destruction of a big breeder.

Now is the time to load up on a few tailor baits for the coming season with plenty of big gars still hovering over the weed and current lines in the lake. A handful of bread thrown into an eddy of still water will have the fish milling. A slight trickle of fine surface berley in the current will do a similar job.

Don’t get me wrong – the gar are great tucker and many target them as such but you need to spare just a few for the oncoming season of fresh tailor fillets.

Big whiting are still a distinct possibility with old mate Merv Wright nailing a 40cm sand whiting on a pumpkin-coloured Spring Grub and 1/16oz jig. Yabby and worm baits are the flavour for the whiting and are pretty readily available.

Work areas like the shallows around the bridge and the pockets of deep water around the pylons.


The beaches had a promising start last month but tapered off so I am hoping the fish will find their way back to the golden strip and scattered gutters along our section of coast. Dart and small bream are making a dash and the banjos and shovel-nose sharks are all cleaning up baits that lie too long on the bottom.

This month should see the first of the small tuna, such as macks and little bluefin, come through as they head south. The slimy mackerel schools and gars need to gather close inshore and this will depend on the weather pattern maintaining a north-easterly push.

The last good run of northern bluefin tuna and cobia was back in 2000 so let’s hope the cycle has come around again this year.

Until the tuna and cobes turn up there are plenty of blackfish sheltering in the protected pockets of the coast when the seas come up. Some of the deeper ledges like Charlottes have some good bream and trevally knocking around.

The eternal optimist, Neil Baker, will continue to spin the ledges around the Palms and his progress will be monitored and reported on as the season unfolds.

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