This has been one of the strangest seasons I ever remember and the fishing has been very hard to predict.
While there have been quite a few blue marlin wide of the continental slope, the inshore black marlin run turned out to be a complete non event. The mackerel have also been erratic but there have been huge schools of small yellowfin tuna and stripe tuna on the inshore grounds.
The water on the inner reefs has been either brown or green for almost all of the year due to localised flooding, and fishing has been hard to find a pattern to work out with any consistency.
April generally sees the weather patterns settle a bit and the strong south easterlies of summer start to ease. Out wide the East Australian Current has been running at 1-2 knots for most of the year, and beyond the 50 fathom line there have been reasonable numbers of blue marlin, but it is a ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ type of fishery.
Most of the fish have been between 120-160kg with the odd bigger one, but most of the really big ones turned up early in the season.
April is generally one of the best blue marlin months on the calendar and if conditions allow it should be worth a bit of trolling beyond the 50 fathom line. Most of the good spots are between 24 and 30 nautical miles from the Seaway, so good conditions are essential when fishing from a trailer boat.
A spread of five lures each about 20-40cm long on 400lb mono and stand up 37kg tackle is the most reliable way to target these crazy big fish. We’ve caught five blue marlin from my tinnie so far this season and it has been a very challenging type of fishing from a relatively small 6m tinnie, especially when there are only two on board. The challenge is to get ten before Easter.
Hopefully the inshore grounds should see some blue current push in this month, and the numbers of both Spanish and spotted mackerel should increase.
This month can be a very good time to troll the 24 fathom line east of Southport for Spanish mackerel. There are a number of high pinnacles in this area that can be very productive when there is a bit of bait around.
Trolled dead baits such as tailor, bonito and small tuna can be very effective. Halco Laser Pros, Rapala X-Raps and small squid skirts also work well. Troll early in the morning from dawn and keep your lures over reef, not sand. If you have a good sounder the mackerel are generally pretty easy to see: they tend to stack up in vertical schools over the top of pinnacles.
Current dictates bottom fishing this month. Out on the 50 fathom line there should be pearlies, kingfish and parrot; a few snapper can also be caught on the 36 fathom line. In closer there should be a few jewies at night as well as teraglin, tailor and mackerel on baits. If the water cleans up we should also get a few wahoo on the inshore grounds mixed with the mackerel.
The wet summer has made fishing difficult, but the fisheries should start to stablise this month and the water should start to clear. School mulloway should be a good target around the Seaway and Jumpinpin entrances on both live baits and soft plastics, and there should be a few tailor and early season flathead starting to show in the lower reaches. There has been plenty of baitfish in the system as well.
Sand and mud crabs will be on the menu this month; this has been a good crabbing year for both species due to the intermittent large freshes. In April the muddies are generally excellent quality.
The prime baits are chicken frames, mackerel heads and oily fish like mullet. Work the run-in tides in areas like the weed beds in the Broadwater, which are generally the best bet for sand crabs and the Pimpama, North Arm of Coomera and Coombabah Creek, which are good for muddies.
As the water starts to cool slightly a few more flathead start to show on the flats. In April most of the flatties are between 30cm and 55cm long with the odd bigger fish. Soft plastics, blades and rattlers account for plenty of fish at this time of year. The area between Tipplers Passage through to Crab Island is worth a session on a cool day. Expect a few bream, tailor and small GT as by-catch.
There should still be a few mangrove jacks about this month but they tend to thin out a bit as the water cools. At this time of year a lot of the bigger jacks move to the Seaway area and they can be targeted on live baits or deep jigged soft plastics around the end of the north wall. It is common to get smashed up by jacks when targeting jewies.
Drifting live baits such as yakkas and slimies can be very effective in the Seaway this month. Head out to the close reefs to catch your bait on multi hook bait jigs, then head back inside to drift the livies along the walls on the run-in tide. This can get you a stack of good fish from mulloway to jacks to monster bream.
Overall, this month is a hard one to predict ahead of time, especially because around the beginning of March the rain was still bucketing down and the estuaries were in flood. Hopefully this will make the fishing good for April, the weather will settle down a bit and normal patterns will return.Reads: 1266