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Snapper to start firing
  |  First Published: April 2012



The Gold Coast has had a ton of rain in the previous month which gave the rivers a flush and should also stir up the offshore species. Get ready – this month should hold some hot action!

There will be a wide range of offshore species on offer this month with snapper expected to start firing. As the current is slowing you will find more and more boats out chasing these little red devils and this bit of fresh will bring them on the chew.

As always the 18 and 24 fathom reefs will produce the goods as well as Fidos and the Mud Hole. For those of you with a slightly sturdier vessel the 36 and 42 fathom reefs 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 spooled with 20-30lb mono line best for this. I like the mono line just because it allows a more natural bait presentation and I also feel much less fish are lost due to hooks pulling.

When you float a bait back try to let it down as freely as possible as when a big snapper climbs onto your bait the fish should feel no pressure and after a few feet of free spool set your hook.

Any bait will work on its given day when snapper fishing but I think the humble pillie is pretty hard to beat most of the time, though I’ve caught quality fish on flesh baits such as mullet and tuna. Try to use the lightest sinker you can get away with – 1/2 to 1 1/2oz usually does the trick.

Most of the time I run my sinker right a set of gang hooks. Mustad 7766 hooks are really good for ganging as they are strong and sharpen up really well. I think gangs are an advantage particularly when there is a few stray mackerel or tailor present.

A few blue marlin will be poking around in the next month or so and if you’re keen for some heart racing action I suggest getting out there. Anywhere from about the 70 fathom line and beyond will hold blues.

It’s not all about just putting your lures in and heading east, keep a close eye out for birds working, schooled bait fish and current lines.

50lb lines are a minimum in blue marlin territory with 80 and 130lb tackle far more suitable. Lures ranging from 9-16” work best in our 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 lures and Lively Lure blue pillies can be a very effective method.

When it comes to speed try to troll as fast as possible while still allowing the lure to track straight and not come out of the water.

I try to steer away from wire with my mackerel fishing and use 80-100lb mono trace. You will rarely get bitten off and get far more strikes. Once again when trolling look for birds circling or diving, this very simple sign can make the difference in catching your bag limit and going home heartbroken.

inshore

In April you will start to see a few more school jew showing up in our local estuaries. To catch schoolies successfully you must study the tides very closely as they are a fish that will usually be 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. Jew will take a wide range of lures with soft plastics and metal vibes being personal favourites. The best catches have been on plastics in a jerk minnow style, such as five and seven inch Gulp Jerk Shads and six inch Atomic Jerk Minnows. Jig heads will range from 1/2-1 1/2oz.

In the past months I have been using more and more heavily weighted lipless crank baits when fishing for schoolies and by far the best I’ve found is the Ecogear vt20g. This lure sinks quickly and can be purchased 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 jew concentrate your efforts on deep holes, deep drop offs and break walls near the mouth of your creek or river. The Southport Seaway holds jew 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, hardy heads or even stripped flesh baits such as mullet or gar.

I use a size 1 hook with a medium length shank such as a Mustad Aberdeen, and a trace of around a metre long. Try to use a fairly light sinker.

Lately I have been using the new Ecogear Bream Prawn when chasing bream, and have been getting outstanding results. The best method is to use a really light jig head and gently hop it along the bottom. 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 stick with something around 4-6lb fluorocarbon.

At the top of the tide most sand banks will hold some nice 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. Yabbies are hard to go past when targeting whiting.

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 first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon is always a good way to catch them and also very exciting.

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