March, being the beginning of autumn, could be the point in the year that the weather decides to settle down and return to some form of normalcy.... So far this year, it has been a little unpredictable with storm squalls rolling in and out, cyclonic winds, heat waves and of course continuous periods of wet. This weather could easily continue during March though many anglers have fingers crossed that it will not! So any fine, calm days need to be acted upon quickly.
March does have a reputation in previous years as being one of the best months for fishing along the coast, so with any luck we will have plenty of weigh-ins this month. In the rivers and creeks now is the time to start pushing further upstream to find those feeder creeks and small drop-offs, which are providing all sorts of food and nourishment for hungry predators.
After a big rain period the mangrove flats and sand banks come alive with the arrival of new food sources in the form of solider crabs, prawns, herring, poddy mullet, silver bitties and even the odd worm. Plenty of small bream have come out of the wood-work and this I can also put down to the increased numbers of baitfish in the river systems. The herring and poddy mullet have come in with the big tides but also after the intense rain spurts we had earlier in the week, the river was faring well for small prawns and crustaceans which baitfish were chasing after as well.
Queenfish, grunter, trevally, mangrove jack and decent sized bream will be on the warpath, particularly on the high tide early in the day or in the evening. Plenty of reports of summer whiting, flathead and cod have also been steadily trickling in as February came to a close. Mud crabs are also reportedly on the move with several potted over the past few days and one even being caught in an angler’s cast net off Chambers Island Bridge earlier in the week, legal size and very full – well done!
I recommend fishing the area where colour change from dirty to clean water is most obvious and you’ll find this is where most of the action is taking place. Not all species will be on fire in the days after a big wet period. Some fish love the dirty water being stirred up – like flathead and bream as they are bottom feeders seeking out any little tid-bit, crustacean or scrap on offer. Whiting and trevally are more particular about the clarity and salt content of their water.
There’s also a run of school jew in the river systems at present, most likely due to all the baitfish around. School jew are just juvenile jew ranging between 2 and 5kg. Keep in mind the legal minimum size is 75cm and a juvenile jew can often be quite under the minimum. Bigger jew and school jew actually congregate in small schools as their common name suggest. This allows anglers to capture them in good numbers, with hauls of 4 and 5 fish not uncommon, however the bag limit is 2 fish per angler per fishing session/day. So if you are out with mates, a big haul needs to be distributed, if alone please return all extra fish back to the water. The tackle required to target school jew can be a lot lighter than that used for big jewies. Anglers can get away with using 6-15lb line on a lighter action rod, but will still require 15-40lb mono leader material to cope with the fish's teeth and the snaggy terrain in which they feed.
These fish still feed in all the usual jew haunts, which tend to include deep holes and channels, rocky ledges and walls, bridge pylons as well as areas that hold good numbers of bait fish. Like all jew fishing, it is best to target school jew at night, because this is when they feed the most. Tides and moon phases will affect their feeding patterns as well. I have found that one hour either side of the high and low tides are best. Several days either side of the new and full moon is a ruff guide of when to try. With the new moon phase coming up next weekend on Friday night, it will be worth considering a trip to the Cod Hole!
Let's see what the weather brings in March and hope for some calmer, warm days which will have rods bending and anglers smiling.