I love March. It is the best fishing month of the year and has arguably the best weather so there isn’t any reason not to have a ball over the next few weeks. And with Easter right in the middle, you have extra days off so it just gets even better.
Where do you start? There are just too many options to pack into each day but let’s start with the estuaries and ramp up the excitement level as we work our way offshore.
Lake Illawarra has plenty on offer with flathead still the main attraction in the main channel and virtually any sandy area elsewhere. Soft plastic prawn imitations are working well, probably due to the number of prawns this year.
Bream are next best and can be found around all the rocky foreshores and in the feeder streams You can throw lures around and catch a couple or you can get fair dinkum and cast the live unweighted prawns you caught the night before into the same areas.
The catches can be spectacular, with a fish every bait common. Another good spot is under the bridge during the evening with the same live prawns.
There are some big whiting about. They love squirt worms and aren’t afraid of live prawns, either, with the best spots being east of the bridge. Just look for where there are a bunch of anglers shoulder to shoulder along the channel.
Blackfish are starting to move with a few big sea-run fish making their way along the coast and into the estuaries. Good green weed may be hard to get but it’s worth it to float a bait along the edges of the ribbon weed beds with some weed berley.
Take some bread with you because the blackfish float rig also works well on the big mullet that are around. Garfish also will also be attracted to the berley so you can have a ball with a loaf of bread and a small float.
Tailor of various sizes are active around the drop-off and down around the walls at the entrance to the lake, along with schools of salmon that seem to be working the bait on the fast-moving tides.
Throw in a few jewies and trevally around the bridge pylons and you have enough action to keep you busy for a month.
The Minnamurra is virtually the same but you have two bridges to work for twice the fun and you may even run into a stray mangrove jack.
The beaches they are going off as well and there is something on every beach.
Everyone would love to catch a jewie off the beach so grab some fresh bait like tailor, mullet, slimy mackerel, yellowtail or a nice fillet of blackfish, find a deep hole and fish it during the evening.
Don’t worry about the weather, just keep the bait in the right spot and a jewie will come. So will lots of sharks and rays, salmon, tailor and flathead but don’t get disheartened, that jewie will show up.
If you have beach worms you have most bases covered because there are plenty of whiting on most beaches, along with salmon, bream, dart, flathead and even a few trevally.
Pack a few pilchards and you will get most of the above and any tailor that might be around. If the ocean is flat and you can see the fish chopping on the surface, try casting some small lures about for the tailor and salmon and even frigate mackerel.
The rocks are special this time of the year with just about anything likely to grab a bait or lure. Bonito, tailor, salmon, kingfish, frigates and trevally are off just about every headland and breakwall. All you need is a few small lead slug-type lures, slices or Crystal Eyes and you are in the hunt.
Fishing the deeper ledges around Kiama and Bass Point with live frigate mackerel, yellowtail and slimy mackerel could produce anything from marlin to cobia, solid yellowtail kings, longtail tuna, bonito, big mackerel tuna and even yellowfin possible, along with heaps of hammerhead and whaler sharks.
For something more sedate there are bream and trevally in the washes, picking up pilchard pieces or royal red prawns.
Offshore is where it is really going off as the warm water hits its peak, bringing with it all those tropical delights to mix with the southern regulars.
Everyone’s favourite, mahi mahi, are around the fisheries FAD and it can be a lottery how big they are on any day. As usual, use big baits for big fish with large slimy mackerel and yellowtail the favourites.
Lots of small dollies usually means there will be a marlin lurking somewhere in the vicinity so slowly trolling a large live bait too big for the tiddlers to handle will often bring the beaky undone, as well as any big dollies.
There is still plenty of time to catch a marlin with blacks hanging around the close reefs like Wollongong and Bandit and big blues are at their peak off the continental shelf with the odd striped marlin. Kiama canyons and beyond are good starting points.
Kings are the next most popular pursuit and are over just about all the reefs this month. The trick is to use live baits, preferably mackerel, very early in the morning. Bass point and the islands are popular spots. Fish over 15kg are about but 5kg to 8kg kings are the norm.
Each season some lucky angler fishing live baits in these places runs into a school of cobia. Fish over 20kg have been taken in past seasons. They are exciting fish at the best of times but when you hook them without travelling to northern NSW, it is even better.
Another likely inshore reef visitor is the spotted or Spanish mackerel. I haven’t heard of any yet but they can show up and move on very quickly so when you hear about them, don’t wait until next week.
Sailfish sometimes show up over the inshore reefs and are caught on live baits put out for marlin or small lures trolled for striped tuna and bonito.
Throw in a few giant trevally and rainbow runners around the bommies and reefs and there is plenty of exotic action available if you get lucky.
Then there are the regulars like the pelagics roaming all along the beaches and headlands. Salmon, tailor, trevally, mackerel tuna, bonito, frigate mackerel and kings often churn the water to foam as they munch down on schools of bait.
Casting lures into the boiling mass makes for a great morning’s entertainment, a feed and snapper baits as well.
There have been some nice snapper over the shallow inshore reefs lately. Reds to 6kg are being caught with plenty of smaller fish to 2kg so head to your favourite snapper spot over coming weeks, particularly in the evenings, inject some berley and get into them.
Berley, however, attracts all those nasty little whalers and hammerheads but they aren’t bad tucker in their own right.
The bottom bouncers have just about everything with fins on the chew. Snapper and the odd trag are over the reefs along with small samson fish, kingfish, trevally and other assorted reefies, while over the sand and gravel there are heaps of good flathead and mowies, gurnard and flounder.Reads: 551