April is one of the best times to fish Port Stephens. The offshore waters are still warm and other species such as bream and luderick begin their annual migration.
The area is fishing exceptionally well. In the 30 years I have lived here I have never seen so many pelagic species all inside of the Port.
Bonito, Watson’s leaping bonito, kingfish and longtail tuna are all herding up the baitfish.
Longtails are by far the Holy Grail and in the early morning they can be seen chasing garfish from Jimmys Beach to Soldiers Point. Your best bet to get a bite is to chase them with surface stickbaits or metal lures such as 40g Raiders but it can be time-consuming and frustrating.
Bream have gathered in good numbers along the many rock walls in anticipation for their annual migration. I find soft plastics such as the Gulp 2” Shrimp and 3.5” Pintails to be ideal, especially rigged on 1/20th jig heads.
The Sébile Flatt Shad is another fantastic lure for the rock walls as its slow sink rate and delicate action always entice blue nose bream.
Oyster rack fishing is always another great option and if you can anchor your boat parallel and start a berley trail towards the racks, you should do well especially with floating baits such as mullet gut and peeled green prawns.
Whiting can be still caught in good numbers but you have fish early or late on a run-out tide.
Live tubeworms pinned on fine gauge long-shank hooks and attached to 4lb fluorocarbon are your best bet.
Jimmys Beach, Shoal Bay and Bagnalls Beach will be the pick this month. Luderick fishers already have gathered along the Nelson Bay breakwall. Although a little early, some are doing OK but make sure you fish light with fine-gauge hooks such as the Owner Mosquito Hook – size 10 works extremely well.
Flathead numbers remain good and last April that I managed to crack some fish from 85cm to 99cm on plastics.
Try fishing your lures next to current for the big girls; they will often lie in ambush ready to pounce on passing baitfish.
Paul, my offsider in the shop, recently had the opportunity to do some filming with Steve Starling for The Fishing DVD and they nailed ’em. Check out the next DVD.
Offshore fishing remains good in April.
The snapper fishing will fire towards the end of the month, especially if we get a few southerlies to stir things up.
Pitching an unweighted pilchard into the wash after a heavy sea is an ideal way to catch snapper. Places such as Cod Rock, The Sisters, Little Island and Big Island are all good spots at this time of year.
There is a good chance of a hoodlum king as well in the shallows. They will be herding the thousands of garfish that shelter in the many bays from Broughton to Boat Harbour.
Two methods that work well are stickbaits worked aggressively across the surface or live garfish under small floats. The gar method also works well on longtails and a few have shown up at the front of Fingal Island and south towards One Mile Point.
Further towards the continental shelf is still a good option as autumn is ideal to target striped marlin. Those glass-calm days can be fantastic and you can often see numerous stripes feasting on bait balls right at your feet.
With little current it will be also worth jigging up around Allmark for a few kings. I always like to take a few live slimy mackerel and drift for bar cod as well, they are sensational eating.
Rock fishing will be a hive of activity, especially around Tomaree head, as April is traditionally longtail month.
I can remember the days of getting up at 3am with a head lamp and making the trek over the headland just to secure a spot and to gather live bait – nowadays the boat option is a lot more attractive.
However, there was nothing like the scream of a ratchet as a longtail grabbed your bait and started charging back and forth in front of the rocks.
It’s also almost time to dust off the Alvey and head to a safe wash to toss some floating baits in for pigs.
I find peeled green prawns to work best, with a bit of bread for berley. Boulder Bay, Rocky Point and Boat Harbour will be the places this month.
Beach fishing is still productive and you should be able to still pick up a feed of sand whiting.
Meanwhile, some nice tailor have been caught after dark around Green Hills and the northern end of Samurai.Reads: 1905