Presented from Issue 114, February 2015
March is a period of happiness and sadness for Tasmanian anglers. Happiness for the anglers that rely on warm currents or warm weather as there is still some of that. Sadness for those anglers that love their daylight savings as March has the days noticeably shorter working to the date in April we play with clocks. Do NOT despair as there is still lots and lots to enjoy angling wise.
|A big plastic does the job.|
Kingies are about and those anglers that have found them early will be honing their skills to perfection. While being a species of fish that feeds hard when hungry they can also frustrate when sighted but not nailing any of our offerings. The shore based angler must look for some points or areas that promise some reef and broken ground. Look for some water movement in those times you try your luck and be prepared to up your retrieve to incite a bite. I am not sure if it’s the speed news travels now days, but it would seem there are more Kings being caught and this year they look to be of better size. Traditionally they have always been found travelling with the schools of upsized Salmon, but they are really making Tasmania home of late and expect to catch them well into March.
Locating a pocket of Kings is best done with lures and soft plastics. Offerings that will take a bit of pace as you wind them in swiftly. Soft plastics that are elongated and a bit longer that what you would normally through will work well. The numbers of fish reported in early February and the varied and different locations they were caught suggest a session in the boat would be a great deal of fun. Lures that you would use for Salmon are fine and so are the rods and reels. Be warned though an upsized specimen of 10kg will take you to task quickly on such gear and be a lot of fun. If you are trying to target the bigger fish that have been about this year opt for a deeper diving lure with a badly wounded fish action. Slow trolling squid tentacles and small live baits on down riggers is a proven way to catch BIG Yellowtail Kingfish on the mainland. Maybe it is time we gear up for that in March
|It’s fish of this quality we are looking for in March|
March is that time of year serious offshore game fishers huddle around rocking backwards and forwards mumbling about fish with a tinge of yellow in the fins. The mighty Thunnus albcares of Yellowfin tuna is on everyones minds. It’s a fish that is very much sought after and a prize trophy. Pound for pound these babies are the fastest and the most agile of all the tuna we face here in Tasmania. To land a good sized Yellow is an angling feat not a whole heap of Tasmania’s can lay claim to.
When they do you can often tell as they have their chests puffed out so far they can over balance and fall over. . . In all seriousness the Yellowfin is a true athlete of the ocean and is also fantastic eating when looked after. Yes ! that’s right I am going to go on about bleeding the fish well and having some ice on board to chill the fish down. It is actually a fact that after a big battle tuna species can suffer what is known as “burnt tuna syndrome”. This is where the fish has over heated in the battle and continues to do so while on the deck after capture. This can leave the flesh tasting muddy and not very appealing. If you go to the trouble of catching it, a little more trouble wont hurt to make sure you have some ice. Don’t be one of those people that say “ oh blah blah blah tastes terrible”…. After leaving the guts in the fish all day on the deck of your boat.
Yellowfin love a temperature break and current line. If you find some water that is dramatically hotter (4 – 6 degrees) than where you just come from work up and down that area until you can get a sense of where that temp break is and where it runs. You can use the sounder to plot marks and instead of naming them just log the temp readings. You will soon getr a picture of what might be going on around you. While traveling and plotting some temp keep an eye open for bait schools as well. If you start to have a temp break and some bait , you have found an area that is worth working over. Come over the ground from all angles working the bait from the warmer water to the colder and vice versa.
Yellowfin are also a species of fish that don’t mind traversing the shallow ground to get to where they want to go. Many spots along the East Coast of Tasmania have held and had Yellow fin feed in water as shallow as 50m. Don’t get hung up on any special lure needed to target Yellowfin in Tasmania. If you have a good spread of lures that mimic the Tasmanian pelagic bait you are on the money.
A couple of brown and light orange skirts will keep you in good stead as they will replicate the squid we start to see offshore and around in March. It has been a while since we have seen a good run of “Yella’s” in Tasmanian shores. When we do see them they are normally good sized fish of 50kg or better. With the water temp and quality we had out wide in February I am going out on a limb and suggesting we may see some this year. Don’t let me down though, get out and drag a spread. Destinations like Bicheno and Triabunna are prime Yellowfin haunts. They are also great places to take the family while you are dragg’in lures for hours offshore.
We have more marlin in our waters than any of us give credit. The waters wide of St Helens, Bicheno and Triabunna in March need more boats out with the right gear having a red hot crack. The lion’s share of the blue water anglers in Tasmania open their accounts on early season mako sharks then cool their heels until the Albacore and then SBT’s arrive further south. There is a fantastic striped marlin fishery going to waste. The fish caught in close around St Helens each year are incidental catches and those willing to gear up and fish wide in the blue water on and just wide of the shelf will be rewarded.
Just imagine if we started talking about the Yellowfin as marlin bycatch. Teasers are where it is at when trolling for marlin. Mirror teasers, daisy chains, Boone birds, marlin mudflaps.. it doesn’t matter. As long as you have something creating a splash and surface disturbance you are on the money. Lures can be a mix of your skirts that have proven to match the local bait and a couple that are a little larger than the norm. Slipping a couple of bigger lures into the spread on short corner and short rigger won’t hurt. Make sure they are a quality lure from a decent manufacturer. They will need to work well, cup lots of water and as they go under the surface pull down bubbles to create a smoke trail. With the last of the daylight savings weeks to use up, get out off St Helens and Bicheno and find a hot arvo bite !
|Healthy striped marlin ready for release|