Previous months have been favourable for anglers, especially so for Moreton Bay pelagics.
Prominent schools of mackerel and tuna have been fairly consistent throughout January and February and hopefully this should continue for a good portion of March as well.
The baitfish on which these species predate, hopefully will remain in the bay for a while, heightening activity for both pelagic and demersal species.
Longtail tuna have been fairly scarce in recent months but this should improve over the coming weeks.
March is a fairly inconsistent month most years, however with all seasonal species arriving late this year there should still be a few summer species around to hopefully make this month a cracker.
Throughout March the action around the bay islands should continue with a good mix of species on offer.
Peel and Mud islands are the most heavily fished, however Green should not be discounted as a producer of quality snapper and sweetlip. The terrain around Mud and Peel is more structured and anglers find this entices a lot more species to its margins.
Estuary cod, morwong, tuskfish, bream, flathead, trevally, grunter, mulloway and even pelagic species can be caught around the fringes, in addition to the more prominent snapper and sweetlip. This can provide some exciting fishing, as you never know what that next hit will produce.
Baits and plastics can be worked successfully in these waters and will take most species on offer. Obviously, specific targeting will heighten the chances of catching any particular species. Both daylight and darkened hours can fish well however picking your tides and moon phases can provide a shortened route to success.
During March the snapper numbers will be reasonable however the best months of the year are yet to come. But you can get a couple of keepers for a few hours on the water casting soft plastics or soaking baits. The occasional snapper over 50cm will be caught but most caught in March are smaller.
Often, grass sweetlip are around in better numbers throughout the next two months.
The best success will often come to those prepared to be on the water at least an hour before dawn. This is especially the case on the eastern side of Green Island for those fishing baits of mullet flesh, gar strips, fresh green prawns, squid and other quality offerings, preferably fresh, not frozen. Even the humble pillie will score a few fish however the pickers will often dictate regular bait changes.
Snapper numbers are usually not that great throughout March but the quality of the fish encountered will often make the effort worthwhile. Several other species can be caught around Green also. In close, towards the top of the tide, the shallows close to the island are definite producers of quality bream, especially for those casting smaller surface lures.
Maria Wisedog, Mega-Bass Dog-X Junior and Lucky Craft Sammy 65 are very popular, however there are a myriad of surface stick-baits and small poppers that will do the job when presented well.
Often, this shallow ground also harbours other species such as trevally, estuary cod and big tailor, which can result in a few lure losses for those anglers using light leaders whilst targeting bream.
Other shallow areas worth a look for bream on surface lures include around Goat and Bird islands, the back of Peel (southern side) and the Scarborough foreshore.
Squid often show up in reasonable numbers throughout March, especially in the deeper channels, where the arrow squid like to lurk.
Other species including bottle squid and tigers are also often abundant but usually these are more prominent around shallow rock, rubble or weed bed areas with crystal clear water flowing over them when it starts to get a little cooler.
The main areas where I have personally caught arrow squid include the upper reaches of the Rous Channel, Brown’s Gutter, The Blue Hole, Fisherman’s Gutter and Black’s Gutter.
The Rainbow Channel often holds good numbers of several varieties of squid and these can be targeted from the Amity Point Rock Wall for land-based anglers or by those in boats anywhere around the northern end of this channel. The usual prawn-profiled squid jig will work for arrow squid however a pilchard fished on a metal squid jag is often a more productive offering, which will result in better numbers.
The squid jags are metal spikes with the rows of sharp spikes on one end are usually inserted through a pillie, which is then suspended a few metres below a float (depending on water depth). I often do this when fishing with plastics around the bay islands for snapper.
Use a float just large enough to support the jag and bait so the squid can easily pull it down when they grab it. When the float goes down just slowly wind the squid in, keeping a constant pressure at all times. A slow-tapered rod is ideal for this type of fishing but any rod with a softer tip will suffice.
Squid can really make a mess of your boat with their randomly propelled black ink, therefore it pays to take precautions to limit the amount of cleaning at the end of the day.
A keeper net beside the boat allows them to expel any ink straight into the water but getting them into it without being squirted in the first place is not always possible.
I usually just drop them straight into the live bait tank or an esky then close the lid quickly. Shaking on the leader will usually see them fall off and the lid can just be opened slightly to retrieve the jig or jag.
Squid are delicious when lightly cooked, especially when fresh. My favoured method is to just clean the tubes, split them lengthways and drop them onto a hot grill for about 10 seconds on each side. Remove, dip them in a mix of olive oil, minced garlic, lime juice and a dash of soy sauce and you have a tasty entrée.
A little salad can make this tasty treat into a full meal. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
This great fishery provides a broad array of species for anglers fishing the structure along its length.
It produces some of the better catches of bream to come from Southern Queensland, therefore many ABT Bream Tournaments have been won by anglers fishing here.
Shallow diving minnow lures, topwater presentations, blades and soft plastics will all take bream here, with specimens to over 1.5kg caught at times. Obviously, well-presented baits will also work for these scavengers.
Snapper can also be caught throughout the area on both baits and plastics with the darkened hours producing the better results in the shallower sections for the bait fishermen. Keep your running-sinker rigs lightly weighted and use fresh, quality baits for the best chance of landing snapper weighing 5kg and over.
The best plastics fishing opportunities generally come to those on the water pre-dawn or late afternoon when the snapper willingly venture into the shallows.
Other species, including estuary cod, sweetlip, morwong, mulloway, tailor, flathead and squid, can also be taken from these waters. With its close proximity to land, it is a popular spot for the kayakers who generally launch from Margate Beach, Suttons Beach or Queen’s Beach North.
A little wider of Scarborough Reef it is often possible to locate schools of pelagics, especially smaller tuna and bonito. The more desired mackerel and longtail tuna are also abound at times.
Sharks can often be plentiful here so an electronic shark-shield device would probably be advisable if chasing schools of pelagics from your kayak, as the whalers can be quite aggressive, often taking a hooked fish towards the closing stages of a fight.
Longtail tuna have been very sporadic over the last few seasons. Although the better numbers generally turn up during April and May, last season saw a good run of fish during March.
I had a couple of good sessions early last March in the area between the Four Beacons and Measured Mile. Other reports came in from The Naval Reserve Banks, Pearl Channel, Rainbow Channel, Lucinda Bay and from along the front of Bribie.
If this action repeats itself this year then anglers are in for a lot of fun. The average fish was only around 8kg last season but these still provide a lot of fun on 6-8kg line. Locating some surface feeding action, then casting chromed slices and slugs is the general way they are targeted, however many other methods will also come up trumps.
Small stickbait plastics cast into the melee and allowed to sink or worked across the surface in a walk-the-dog fashion has become a popular technique. However you will generally need to get a lot closer to the action to deliver these lightly weighted offerings the required distance.
If I can stalk them to the required proximity, I like to cast baitfish-profiled flies such as bay bait, polar-fibre minnows, surf candies and queenie killers with my nine weight fly rod and intermediate line. These flies can be stripped back quickly with a double-handed haul or just allowed to sink.
They will regularly be slurped-up as they sink like a wounded baitfish, usually providing a good hook set in the corner of the mouth especially for flies tied on semi-circle patterns such as the Gamakatsu SC-16.
Time will tell whether the longtails again show up early this season but having a rod rigged and ready to cast in their direction is a good ploy when traversing throughout the bay during March.
The smaller numbers of prawns that were around during February should increase throughout the month.
The usual spots in the Brisbane River are still worth a try with good numbers taken from many land-based locations such as the Colmslie Jetty and pontoon and Newstead Jetty.
Remember to clean off these platforms with a few buckets of water after use so the council does not make them off limits to anglers. It only takes a few minutes to do this and makes it more enjoyable for others who use these areas.
The mouth of the Logan River often fires for prawns during March with many cast-netters managing their limit in a little over an hour. When they are on there will generally be up to 30 or more boats targeting them at once.
The flats out from Nudgee are another area where huge numbers of boats gather to target the run of prawns, which may only last a few days, so you have to be lucky at times to be there at the best time.
This estuarine system holds many different types of structure and numerous fish species.
The area around the ‘Pin Bar is heavily fished yet due to the huge influx of water here each tidal phase, the fishing is usually fairly good.
Anglers drifting live baits here in the main channel during March are likely to encounter the odd mulloway as well as numerous flathead, many of which may eclipse the current maximum size limit of 75cm, and therefore must be released.
If you want a few flatties for the table, those in the 50-60cm size range are the better ones to keep. Live baits will also produce a few unstoppable critters in this precinct, most probably large white-spot shovelnose rays and sharks such as whalers and hammerheads.
Trolling lures further up the system in areas such as Gold Bank, Whalley’s Gutter, Slipping Sands, The Aldershots, Mackenzies Channel and Crusoe Island will almost definitely produce a few flathead on the falling tide. Small, brightly coloured minnow lures, which dive deep enough to be trolled very close to the bottom along the edges of the banks, are the best option.
There are many good ones around but you will not go wrong with Mann’s Stretch 5+ and 10+, Micro-Mins, RMG Poltergeist 52mm and 68mm and any others that reach the required depth. Bright colours such as pink, orange and chartreuse are best for the dirty water but flathead are not fussy and will hit just about anything, so long as they can see it.
Bream, trevally, pike, whiting, tailor and many other species will also be encountered.
Both mud and sand crabs should still be abundant throughout March so setting a few pots will usually pay dividends.
Mud crabs will be well up the systems in the smallest of creeks and gutters and the deeper holes adjacent collapsed mangrove banks if we have not had much rain. After a bit of a flush you are better off working in the main channels of the systems and around the mouths of creeks and gutters.
Sand crabs can also be taken around the mouths of the major systems feeding into the bay however better numbers will usually be caught in the bay proper. Set your pots along the edges of the major islands and adjacent any underwater contours such as ledges and channels.
Leaving your pots overnight will heighten your chances however day-trippers are still in with a great chance of returning home with a good feed. Fresh fish frames, frozen mullet and chicken carcasses are just some of the productive baits.
Well as you can see there are plenty of opportunities for anglers during March. It is one of those mad months where you never really predict what is going to happen as every year it seems a little different.
Hopefully my predictions will be close and you can enjoy some of the varied opportunities that present themselves. Often it seems like everything is happening at once and you can send yourself mad just trying to decide what to do next. Try and contain yourself though as it is hard to cast while wearing a straightjacket.Reads: 575