April Action Aplenty
  |  First Published: April 2011

I’m predicting big things this April, we have had a huge amount of rain to give the rivers a flush and stir up offshore species, so get ready this month should hold some hot action!

There will be a wide range of offshore species on offer in April, starting with snapper. As the current is slowing there will be more and more boats out chasing these little red devils.

As always the 18 and 24 fathom reefs will produce the goods, as well as Fidos and the Mud Hole. Further offshore the 36s and the 42s will also be holding good numbers of snapper.

For big snapper I’m still a fan of float lining baits back through a berley trail. I find an overhead outfit best for this, spooled with 20-30lb monofilament line. I like the mono line because I think it allows a more natural bait presentation and fewer fish are lost due to hooks pulling.

Any bait will work on its given day when snapper fishing, but the humble pilchard is pretty hard to beat, though I’ve caught quality fish on flesh baits such as mullet and tuna. Try to use the lightest sinker possible, sinkers between 1/2oz to 1 and 1/2oz are best. I run my sinker right onto my hooks and most of the time I use gang hooks.

Mustad 7766 hooks are really good for ganging; they are strong and with the aid of a file, sharpen up just fine. I think gangs are an advantage particularly when there is a few stray mackerel or tailor present. When floating a bait back try to let it down as freely as possible. When a big snapper climbs onto your bait the fish should feel no pressure, then after a few feet of free spool, set your hook.

A few good blue marlin will be poking around in the next month, so for some heart racing action, get out there. Anywhere from about 70 fathoms and beyond will hold blues. But it’s not all about just putting lures in the water and heading east, keep a close eye out for birds working the surface, schooled bait fish and current lines.

In marlin territory 50lb line is the minimum with 80lb and 130lb tackle far more suitable. Lures ranging from 9-16” work best in the Southern Gold Coast area and it’s always best to run a range of colours, shapes and sizes.

The Spanish mackerel will still be cruising the closer reefs and by trolling a few bibbed minnow style lures such as locally made Jonesy and Lively Lure blue pillies can be very effective. When it comes to speed try to troll as fast as possible but still allow the lure to track straight and not come out of the water.

I try to steer away from wire with my mackerel lures and find 80-100lb mono trace will rarely get bitten off and receive far more strikes. When trolling look for birds circling or diving, this simple sign can mean the difference in catching your bag limit and going home heartbroken.


April will bring more school jew showing up in our local estuaries. To catch schoolies successfully study the tides very closely; these fish are usually found in reasonably deep water that is very tide affected. For best results try to fish on the turn of the tide when there is much less flow.

School jew will take a wide range of lures, soft plastics and metal vibes are both proven with this species. My best catches have been on plastics in a jerk minnow style, such as 5” and 7” Gulp jerk shads and 6” Atomic jerk minnows, but when the tide has completely stopped it’s worth trying a shad style tail.

Jig heads can range from 1/2oz to 1 and 1/2oz. In the past months I have been using more and more heavily weighted lipless crankbaits when fishing for schoolies and by far the best I’ve found is one out of the Ecogear stable: a VT 20g.

This lure sinks quickly and can be found with or without a rattle. I think a rattle is a big help when fish are seeing plenty of lures or if the water is dirty.

When trying to locate this at times elusive species concentrate your efforts on deep holes, deep drop-offs and break walls near the river mouth.

The Southport seaway holds jewfish almost year round but if you aren’t there at the right stage of the tide you will most likely catch minimal fish and lose maximum gear. Around the mouth and middle reaches of the Tweed River up to about the Chinderah rock wall will hold schoolies this time of year, but again it’s all about putting the time in.

You shouldn’t have too much trouble finding bream around the place but due to all the rain stick to the mouths and deeper water. Yabbies, worms and soldier crabs are always good bait for bream but if you are chasing more sizable fish try white pilchards, hardiheads or even stripped flesh baits such as mullet or gar.

I use about a size 1 hook with a medium length shank such as a Mustad Aberdeen or something similar, with a trace of around 1m long. I also try to use a fairly light sinker; a 4 ball is a good all round weight.

Gulp soft plastics are a real go to lure for me when chasing bream. But a really light jig head is necessary when chasing bream.

Remember presentation is the key when using all soft plastics, so keep your soft plastics rigged as straight as possible. Bream can be very wary of heavy leaders so try to stick with something around 6lb. Fluorocarbon is also always a big help.

At the top of the tide most sand banks will hold some good summer whiting along with the start of the winter whiting. These tasty little devils are very popular sport and great fun to catch but again fresh bait is the key to best success.

With the aid of a yabby pump and a sieve most of the time you can collect all the bait you need and it’s not bad fun either. I use the same rig as for the bream only with a smaller hook like a size 6 or 4.

I’m sure with all this rain there will be plenty of bass getting about in the upper reaches of the Tweed and the very top of the Nerang. The fish can be caught from a canoe or kayak or on foot. Surface lures fished first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon is always a good way to catch them and is also very exciting.

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