March is a favourite month among locals and should produce some spectacular fishing following the recent rain. Local land-based hotspots will fish extremely well this month and should yield quality catches for anglers willing to put in the time.
Anglers who haven’t caught a barra this season would do well to leave the boat at home and spend some time walking the rock walls along the Strand, Casino and Marina. These are prime post-spawn barra haunts, where you will definitely encounter large numbers of hungry barra feeding on the prawns, herring and mullet that take shelter along these walls.
Large livebaits are probably the most effective way to fish these areas, with prime times being the afternoon tides on the 5th, 6th, 19th, and 20th of March. Have baits in the water from the bottom of the tide and fish the duration of the run-in. Be sure to stagger your baits at different distances from the wall, and never underestimate how close to the rock wall big barra will feed, particularly along the entrance to the Marina. The nodes alongside the Strand stinger enclosures will fire on the larger early morning tides, for those prepared to get up early.
There have been recent reports of plenty of big barra, giant herring and tarpon in The Lakes in the centre of town, and these fish have been providing good flyfishing action. Due to the lack of depth in The Lakes, it’s best to fish this area during periods of low light, such as early in the morning and late in the afternoon.
Boat ramps were filled to beyond their capacity after the much-awaited barra season opened. Hopefully we’ll be able to reap the benefits of the recent flooding of southern creeks, as anglers descend on the Haughton and Morrissey’s systems in anticipation of some run-off barra action. Prawns should be easy to find this month and make great livebaits for barra, mangrove jacks, fingermark and grunter, which will all be on the move over the coming months. Be careful when navigating these estuaries, as sandbars and snags may have moved during the flooding.
The sand bars and rock bars near the mouth of the Bohle River will be a great March option for anglers who don’t want to travel too far from home. Large live mullet fished around the draining gutters should entice barra and queenfish.
Big fingermark are in good numbers and are aggregated around most local inshore wrecks and rubble. The most successful way to target them is with live squid fished half a metre off the bottom a few days before and after the new moon, with the Cape Cleveland area yielding consistent catches to 90cm.
Anglers chasing pelagics will find plenty of action in the shipping channel with outer pylons producing quality golden trevally, grey mackerel and queenfish. Baits or metal slices fished in a berley trail will soon have these speedsters playing the game.
Waters between the Rattlesnake group and Bay Rock are showing vast bait schools. Sightings of tuna schools working the area are a good sign. Live yakkas fished around these aggregations have enticed grey mackerel and large queenfish in recent weeks, and the are should continue to produce throughout March.
The Magnetic Island shoals are fishing well for large-mouth nannygai and some thumper red emperor. Keep an eye on the bait schools beginning to form in this area, as the first run of schooling Spaniards won’t be too far behind. Assuming stable weather patterns, the wider reef areas and associated shoals can be expected to continue to produce the normal mixed bag of sweetlip, coral trout, red emperor and Spanish mackerel.