Time for currents to turn
  |  First Published: March 2008

We are back to my favourite month of the year, when watching currents and temperature fluctuations can reap real rewards for anglers.

March on the Hunter coast is when the currents usually turn and the warmer water south of us passes, bringing a multitude of fish with it. It’s the time when the fish follow the warmth back up the coast and as they pass we can get stuck in to them before the onset of cooler currents and the dormant times of Winter.

March can be amazing with a blend of the first of the huge bream, flathead and whiting heading north again. Every year I hear of someone catching something out of the ordinary or a fish of mega proportions, especially bream, flathead or a huge whiting.

More often than not it’s caught on a beach closest to an estuary mouth or the first close inshore reef.

After their breeding season fish tend to leave the estuaries with one thing on their mind – food. They feed very freely for their migration run and this makes sense because you would want to take on a lot of energy for the distances some of these fish travel.


Mixed bags are very likely. March is a good time to hook up with bigger greenback tailor which travel with the baitfish such as slimy mackerel and small tuna.

Tailor seem to follow the last of the warmer currents and the bait and land-based anglers have a ball spinning up all these fish.

Trolling is a great way to find fish close offshore in March. Mixed schools of tailor and small tuna rarely travel alone, so once you have found them, stick around for a while and you may be surprised just what you hook.

Flathead can really turn on some action this month with the bigger models close to the entrances of creeks and rivers. Flathead make their run to sea around now so these places, or along nearby beaches, can really go off.

Estuaries with rock walls jutting out into the ocean are also among the best places. Lures, live baits and really fresh baits such as fillets of slimy mackerel, mullet or yellowtail all work well.

Offshore fishing has been pretty good but recent weather has spoilt wide trips to chase the game fish. Marlin and mahi mahi are out there and some of the bigger boats able to fish in most conditions have turned in some good days. This is usually the last month for the big game fish in this area; it depends on the currents but it slows from here on in.

There are a lot of fish being caught in Newcastle Harbour. Many anglers have found that pumping nippers in this area is hard these days and the smart fishos are travelling to Port Stephens or lake Macquarie to get bait. Nippers are one of the best baits in an estuary so the trek is well worth it, even with the cost of fuel factored in.

I have been really surprised with the number of blackfish that have been around over the whole of Summer. I have said before they will be the mainstay of fishing into the future because high water nutrients and blackfish go hand in hand. The more nutrients that we pump into the ocean, the more weed and food for them so as Winter approaches and the larger schools of luderick and drummer move in, I will be surprised if this isn’t another great year for them.

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