Stability is the key word and the main factor that appeals to Bowen fishers in the month of April.
With the typically wetter months of February and March behind us, April usually sees plenty of the creeks expelling the dirty freshwater and leaving relatively clear water that is perfect for those chasing jacks and barra on hardbody and soft lures. Combine this with optimal water temperatures and slightly cooler air temps and creek fishers can find themselves with ideal conditions both above and below water to tangle with some great fish.
While the barramundi copped an absolute hiding from the professional brigade at the beginning of the season, there are still plenty of smaller models that slipped the nets for those willing to work the tides and moon phases accordingly.
Bowen barra love to feed during the first couple hours of the run-out tide and really do come on the chew when the tide begins to peel away. This can be attributed to the shallow nature of many of Bowen’s creeks, which force the barra to move with the bait as the tide drops.
Once you have cracked the pattern and learned how and where the barra move, regular catches are common. For live baiters fishing the deep holes around creek mouths on the low tide is a very good option as many of the bigger fish like to rest up in these areas when the tide is at its lowest.
Mangrove jack are also a likely consistent target for this time of year and are really enjoyable to chase when creek waters are clear. Shallow running minnows and surface lures work wonderfully in clear water as visibility increases and fish are more likely to spot the lure.
This makes for some exciting fishing as those big red flashes appear from nowhere, smash the lure right in front of your eyes, spray you with water then proceed to make a feisty exit back into structure.
Tight drags are essential and leader and braid below 30lb is really giving the bigger models more than a fighting chance. There will be plenty of trophy fish around this time of year as well, with an unbelievable abundance of prawns and mullet in the creeks at the moment there is certainly plenty of food in the creeks to beef these red devils up.
Mud crabs will also continue to run through April and should only improve as we move into peak Bowen crabbing season. The crabbing this year can only be described as sensational with no sign of those small annoying bucks at all. Most crabbers from creeks both and north and south of Bowen have recorded significantly abundant populations of big rusty bucks.
Boat Creek and Meatworks Creek which can be easily accessed from the Don River Boat Ramp around the top of the tides are a good place to drop a few pots and should produce some very good catches. Creeks to the south like Adelaide and Duck Creek, which can be accessed by the Adelaide Creek Road are also worth the effort as they always produce good numbers of muddies.
While Cyclone Yasi may have come and gone, she has certainly done some damage to the outer reefs with plenty of fishers reporting shallower sections of reef either completely torn up or even demolished. This has seen once productive areas now completely void of all life. Even the smaller ornamental damsel and butterfly fish have departed these areas making life tough for anglers chasing fish in less than 20m of water.
It seems most of the target species like coral trout and red throat emperor have once again moved into the deeper water like they did when Cyclone Hamish tore through.
So if you are heading out wide, finding the structure in water from about 20m on is probably your best bet especially if you are after coral trout.
Red emperor and large nannygai really came on the chew last time we experienced an event like this. These big red iconic fish should be hard on the bite in April especially at night and will be a better more consistent option for those chasing a fish out wide.
While large-mouth nannygai will be content to take frozen squid if you are after a big red emperor you will definitely need to spend some time collecting some live or fresh bait and live hussars, squid or even fresh butter flied hussar wings will be the best choice of bait.
Inshore waters have still been producing plenty of bar cheek coral trout and big black spot tuskfish and most reefs and island environments have not been as affected as the offshore reefs which are great news for small boat fishers.
Many of the islands like Middle and Stone Island have been producing good numbers of smallish island trout around the 45cm mark on the deeper water bombies and structure which hang off the fringing island reefs. These islands have also been producing plenty of quality fish including some thumper tuskies for soft plastic fishers as well in these areas with six and seven inch jerk shads and grubs doing the most damage.
Next month will see the beginning of a transition in the fishing in Bowen waters. As the air begins to cool so will water temps meaning creek fishers will only have a short time left to target those iconic creek species like jacks and barra before they go into lock jaw mode. On the other hand, the pelagic species like grey, spotted and Spanish mackerel should begin to turn up which is great news for sport fishers and jiggers.Reads: 2167