Hot times ahead
  |  First Published: March 2008

After quite a wet and windy Summer, let's hope that March will live up to the reputation of being one of the best months for fishing along this part of the coastline.

In my books Autumn tends to be a great season for all types of fishing and, better still, the weather is often nice and stable – not too hot, not too cold and, most importantly, not too windy.

Despite those huge low pressure systems that have wreaked havoc along the North Coast and right across Queensland, we've largely escaped the really wet stuff, although rain certainly has fallen at times. It’s not been enough though to stop me from enjoying what has been the best Summer of bream fishing I've experienced in quite a few years.

I admit that perhaps the high-quality lures and tackle I'm using these days has a bit to do with all the bream hooked over the past few months but what I really think has made this season so good is all the rain. Last year’s big flood may have wiped out estuary fishing for a few months but it seems to have encouraged a lot more life in the local waterways, with a bumper prawn season which in turn has got all the bream fired up.

Not only have bream been active in the estuary, they've been quite thick along the rocks and beaches. That's a good sign that bream numbers overall are in very good shape.

That doesn't mean that I would like to see a repeat of what was going on at South West Rocks last Autumn. Beach netters were out in force along Trial Bay Beach for months on end, ruthless in their tactics to the point of being illegal.

Bream were the target but at one point the beach was lined with hundreds of dead blackfish because they weren't getting enough at the markets for them.

Beach hauling normally gets under way around these parts about now and continues to the end of May. Here, mullet are the main target and the mass murder takes place in a big way around Norah Head and Blacksmiths near Swansea.

I don't care how many feathers I ruffle, beach netting must be stamped out. There's no place in this day and age for ripping out tonnes of spawning mullet, bream or any other species. No wonder the big mullet runs are a thing of the past.

I have nothing against netting an average amount of fish through the rest of the year but huge numbers of fish that have gathered specifically to breed - that's another, very serious, matter.

On a brighter note, let's take a look at what should be on offer this month.


Apart from bream, we should see numbers of bonito show up. At the time of writing the bonnies have been a bit late to show but a few good patches of fish have been lurking just off the headlands over the past few weeks.

The bonito's cousin, the frigate mackerel (locally known as leadies) often put in a good appearance this month, particularly at the Terrigal Haven.

If these small pelagics are around in good numbers there's a strong chance larger predators like cobia, marlin and bigger kings will move in closer. Apart from a few small blacks and the odd striped marlin, there hasn't been a lot of big fish action along the coast but here's hoping for some through March.

Speaking of big fish, there have been quite a few shark sightings in Lake Macquarie over the past couple of months. It makes me a bit nervous because I do quite a lot of fishing in my little green kayak around the southern parts of the big lake and a struggling bream or tailor on the end of a line is like a lollypop to a shark.

Jewfish have been patchy over the warmer months with a few fish caught here and there but I haven't heard of any big jewies. Normally Autumn is the best time to tangle with jewies in the estuary and along the beaches.

So now is the time to get out there and stock up on some top-quality bait like squid or beach worms. The more effort one puts into catching good bait, the greater the chances are of catching a big jewie.

Flathead and whiting have been active right through the warmer months and should continue to be out in force this month.

The current craze of hurling little poppers at these fish certainly works, but not all the time. So if you really want to hook into some flathead I still suggest using soft plastics and for the whiting it's hard to beat live blood worms, beach worms or pink nippers.

If you really have the urge to catch your whiting and lizards on the top, then fish in shallow water (1m or less) in areas with a good mix of sand and weed beds.

Tailor are another species that should be worth chasing this month. They have been a bit patchy over the past few months but, like a lot of other fish, tailor are normally quite active along the rocks and beaches as we move into Autumn. In fact, it's hard to think of a species that isn't on the go at this time of year.

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