I probably say it every year but I will say it again, March is my favourite fishing month of the year. The water is really warm, most of the relentless Summer nor’-easters have diminished and the fish are at their most willing.
Off the rocks, one of my all-time favourite fish, the frigate mackerel should hopefully be there in droves.
This little tuna has power beyond its size and is great fun to catch on tiny metal lures cast from light spinning outfits.
While going super-light would be a blast, I prefer to run tackle a bit heavier so the fish can be lifted from the water rather than dragged because they are dynamite live baits used to tempt kingfish.
Braid around 10lb is the best compromise between casting distance and practicality and also gives me a chance if a bonito, kingfish or much larger tuna decides to jump on.
Some legal kings have been taken on poppers but the big fish haven’t really showed yet.
However, if the frigates do show, the big hoodlums are rarely too far away.
Offshore, things are really cooking with marlin aplenty.
Striped marlin pack attacks have been occurring with multiple hook-ups on trolled lures from fish between 80kg and 110kg.
A recent outing had us hooked up to a very acrobatic 80kg fish in the first 15 minutes of trolling.
This fun was followed by a double hook-up of fish over 100kg that took 50 minutes to deal with and we ended up over a kilometre south of where we first hooked up.
There has also been the odd larger blue marlin around, as Matt Harris found out when he had a 200kg-plus animal show him who was boss for 15 minutes of mayhem until the hook pulled.
Really big blue marlin often show up in March most years, so be prepared for a long fight and don’t forget the harness, like I recently did. It certainly takes the fun out of a long fight against a strong marlin.
Big-eye tuna also made a brief appearance off the Bay with fish to almost 60kg being boated, mixed in with some school yellowfin.
Expect numbers of both of these tuna to increase from now on.
Snapper anglers have been happy with plenty of fish to 4kg fish in the deep-water grounds. Not much action has been occurring in the shallows, which is pretty normal for the warmer months.
Justin Lake recently nailed a monster 9kg red and his girlfriend pinned a lovely 7.5kg snapper.
Both fish are to be made into wall mounts by Tony Evans of Realistic Fish Mounts in Ulladulla.
Tony is the best in the business when it comes to snapper mounts and Justin has already used his services in the past, with a snapper over the magic 10kg mark gracing his walls.
Snapper fishing this month should only get better, particularly towards the end of the month.
Jewfish seem to be showing up everywhere at the moment.
In the river the odd fish is falling to soft plastics but it is the night bait anglers who are really getting stuck into them.
Healthy numbers of school jew to 9kg have been encountered by those deploying live baits around the tide changes.
I recently had an animal of a jewie to the back of the boat that ate a fresh squid head.
The fish looked to be every bit of 25kg and was just metres from the gaff when it got a second wind and smoked off 60m of braid to find its way back to the bridge pylons.
Big bream are still going crazy over surface lures and shallow divers with 40cm to 46cm bream being released regularly.
Ray Smith has been putting his new Hobie kayak to good use with numerous bream captures in this size range, not to mention being towed around after dark at Nelligen bridge by a massive bronze whaler that ate his live tailor meant for a jewfish.
Ray isn’t in any hurry to try Nelligen after dark solo again any time soon!
Off the rocks and beaches, the odd jewfish is also there for the taking.
I have been scoring a few on plastics around 5kg and losing the odd larger fish.
The beaches will be a big draw card this month but it would be beneficial to see some big swells gouge out some new gutters, because many are looking flat and full of weed.
Still, jewfish to 13kg have been hitting the sand along with some very fat, well-conditioned tailor after dark.
Late in the month we should see the first wave of migrating mullet cruising the coast, which can often kick-start a run of big jewfish, sharks, kingfish and tuna.
Add to that schooling bream and blackfish and the rocks and beaches should really start to fire up.Reads: 1030