The good run of small black marlin that started offshore in early December will be almost over by the start of March, but bigger black marlin will start to show on the wider grounds.
Areas such as the 50 fathom reef, Spot X, Deep Trag and the 36 fathom line east of the Seaway should start to produce fish in the 60kg to 140kg range. The best way to target these big marlin is to fish live slimy mackerel either slow trolled or fished deep with a big lead.
Out wider there should be increasing numbers of blue marlin around, and a few big mahi mahi. The blues have been a bit slow so far this year, with a couple of strikes per day being average so far. Some big fish over 200kg have shown up, but there can be a long time between bites.
Mackerel should be the prime target in March. As of the first of the month, the area to the east of Couran Cove is now part of the Moreton Bay Marine Park and is a green zone. This has effectively shut off recreational anglers from a very productive ground that is easily accessible from the Seaway in small boats. The new zoning will also increase the crowds at Palm Beach and Mermaid Reefs. The logic behind making this section of the marine park a green zone is hard to understand, as all the recreational fishing that took place there targets pelagic species that move through the area rather than permanently live in this sand patch.
There has been plenty of both Spanish and spotted mackerel since late January. Some big Spaniards over 20kg turned up in late January east of Tweed, and quite a few decent fish were caught on slow trolled dead baits at Mermaid Reef. Big spotted mackerel over 8kg were caught on Mermaid and Palm Beach by spinning metal lures, live baits and pilchards. Mackerel tuna have been strangely absent this season, which is very unusual.
A few wahoo should start to show around the Tweed Heads Nine Mile this month. It has been a pretty quiet season for wahoo so far, and none of my nice marlin lures have been chomped yet. When the schools of small tuna and long-tom start to show at the Nine Mile the bigger predators won’t be far away. There are also some monster GT in this area, with a 52kg specimen being speared recently. That kind of monster would be pretty hard to handle on a spin rod!
Bottom fishing should improve a bit later this month if the current drops off. The 36 and 50 fathom lines will produce a few pigfish, pearl perch and amberjacks this month, and the inshore reefs will produce a few snapper, tailor and teraglin. If you are bottom fishing remember to float out a pilchard or live bait, as a mackerel is always a bonus.
Close to the Seaway, the area just to the north of the big breaking sand bank, which is north of the entrance has been holding a stack of bait for some months now. This should produce mackerel, mac tuna, sharks and tailor this month. It doesn’t get much attention and most anglers drive right past it, but it can be a very productive spot on the top of the tide when the swell is down a bit.
Summer storms have been good to the estuaries, and with the Hinze Dam flowing over the wall for much of summer the Nerang has had an excellent input of freshwater. This month the estuaries should produce plenty of whiting, gar, school flathead and mulloway.
The Seaway and Jumpinpin entrances have been stacked with dense schools of frog mouthed pilchards, and these have brought in large numbers of big eye trevally and tailor. Spinning the Seaway walls or Jumpinpin Bar has produced some decent tailor, trevally and GT. There have also been a few nice GT and tarpon around as well.
It is worth catching a feed of garfish this month. The sand flats between Crab Island and Wavebreak Island produce good sea gar on the run-in tide. Entice the gar with berley of bread and fish a small piece of prawn on a number 10 hook under a quill float. There is now a bag limit on gar of 50 per person. These fish make outstanding troll baits and are very tasty eating. With plenty of Spaniards and spotted mackerel around it is a good time to stack up on your gar supplies.
There have been reasonable numbers of flathead all through summer, with some monsters recorded including a fish of 103cm. This month try the entrances, Crusoe Island, Kalinga Bank and Tipplers Passage using soft plastics fished deep. As the water on the flats is quite warm, most of the flathead action tends to take place in the deeper sections of the estuary. Four inch Gulp Minnows are my personal favourite at present.
Whiting have been quite erratic over the past few months, and most of the bigger catches have been caught on wriggler worms at night. March is a good month for big whiting, and most of these come from the Nerang River.
Overall, March is an excellent month to fish the Gold Coast. Mackerel will be the main target for most anglers this month, but there are plenty of options from garfish to blue marlin. With the new Marine Park zones, bag and size limits take time to study the regulations. It seems we are so overrun with regulations now it is getting bloody hard to go fishing. Personally, I was very disappointed with several of the new rulings, and putting the maximum size limit of flathead from 70 to 75cm was an incredibly short sighted regulation in my opinion, as the previous maximal size of 70cm was working very well.Reads: 3040