Although the deluge we’ve experienced over the last few months was less severe than last year, the effect on fishing will be similar.
The nutrients flushed into the creeks, rivers and estuaries that feed Moreton Bay will have a positive effect on the piscatorial productivity. With a good array of warm weather species still abounding plus some winter fishing favourites starting to appear, April is a rather exciting and promising month for anglers fishing within Moreton Bay and its filtering waterways.
Last April saw some of the best shallow water snapper fishing I have experienced within Moreton Bay. I did plenty of trips to Mud Island and came up trumps most of the time with quality catches. At times I probed waters as shallow as 2m, catching quality snapper on a variety of plastics, blades and lipless crankbaits.
The decreased water clarity allowed snapper, sweetlip and several other species to feel inconspicuous in the shallows. These species regularly fed in margins where previously they were too wary to venture when water clarity was higher.
Peel Island, Mud Island, Green Island, King Island, Scarborough Reef plus many of the shallow ledges and gutters between Redcliffe and Victoria Point all held good snapper and other species at times.
The mix of clean and dirty water stayed around Mud and other inshore locales until almost June so the fishing was generally very good for those plying their trade with baits and lures.
Stealth is always a very important part of the equation. Those who continue their usual routine of rattling the anchor chain over the stern roller and then sitting right over the spot they want to fish, will still return home with very little.
Several times last April I had boats motor over to me after I had caught a quality fish as they thought I must be on some productive ground. The bite would immediately shut down so I would go further away to fish. This charade would repeat itself several times some days with these anglers oblivious to why I was catching fish and they weren’t. Stealth was a major contributor to my success.
Snapper readily roam all around the bay island margins, in shallow and deep water. Sometimes they are found adjacent prominent structure and at other times they’re out in the open.
The moral of this story is to find your own piece of ground away from the crowds, anchor well up from your chosen spot and be as quiet as possible when bait fishing. Expect to wait a while before getting your first bite after anchoring and don’t shift spots every 20 minutes because things are quiet.
Add a little berley to the equation and you are well on your way to success when soaking quality baits around the bay islands. Anglers working soft plastics and other lures can cover a large amount of water and should be positioning themselves under electric power, especially in shallow water.
Those with good sounders, especially side imaging models, will be in with the best chance of locating prominent bait species and those large arcs that indicate the presence of quality predators.
Deeper locations such as the usually productive snapper haunts of the Harry Atkinson, Curtain Artificial and the numerous wrecks within the bay were also rather productive last April.
The water around the Brisbane River was dirty enough to plough yet it held some decent numbers of quality snapper. A good proportion of these were caught on small live mullet, herring, prawns and other baits. Some anglers did manage some decent captures on plastics and vibration lures, especially on the latter stages of the rising tide, then the first of the run-out tide when the water was slightly cleaner.
Although sand crab numbers have been sporadic at times, the last year has definitely been a boom for those targeting mud crabs.
The rains flushed this species down the estuaries and often well out into Moreton Bay with crabbers occasionally encountering them as far out as the bay islands.
The area around the Brisbane River has been a great spot to set a few pots with a mix of mud and sand crabs being caught. Even the South Bank stretch of the Brisbane River has been worth the effort with some scoring double figures of healthy bucks for a night’s effort.
Setting your pots at the mouth of drains, gutters and feeder creeks and along collapsed mangrove banks should put you in with a good chance. Setting pots in areas where crabs transit during their daily search for food will produce the best opportunities.
Having the entrances to the pot in line with the current can also increase productivity with most crabs approaching the pot from a down current position. Crab pots with four entries make this much easier than the two entry pots, especially if you are just dropping the pot over the side instead of placing it in position.
Jumpinpin, Pumicestone Passage, Kedron Brook Floodway, Brisbane River, Logan River and all creeks filtering into Moreton Bay are worth a try when yearning for a feed of tasty mud crabs. Additionally, you will probably score a few sand crabs around the lower reaches of many systems.
Fish frames, mullet and chicken carcasses are probably the most popular baits due to their productivity. Less accessible spots often produce the better results.
April is generally a very productive month for sweetlip species, especially the grassies. Grass sweetlip (or grass emperor) are fairly common throughout Moreton Bay and are generally encountered by anglers fishing for snapper, however specific targeting will definitely increase productivity.
Green Island is generally productive for anglers on the water a few hours before dawn. As an orange hue appears in the east, sweetlip will generally come on the chew with the bite generally lasting until a little after sunrise. Position yourself along any of the small mud or rubble contours on the eastern or northeastern side of Green and float baits down with just enough lead to keep them close to the bottom.
Quality fresh offerings are best with squid and fillet baits (mullet, pike, gar and tuna) working well. I have also seen plenty of quality sweetlip taken on frozen offerings such as pilchards, squid, whitebait, mullet gut, fowl gut and mullet fillets.
Peel Island offers some great spots for targeting sweetlip, with South-West Rocks being one of the better known locations. I often get numbers of decent sweetlip on the western side of Mud while targeting snapper on plastics therefore this area is also worth a shot.
A pilchard suspended a few metres under a balloon and floated out behind the boat while targeting sweetlip can additionally produce snapper, mackerel, sharks and others.
I am constantly amazed at how good the fishing in the Brisbane River is for a waterway that snakes its way through a capital city. Species such as snapper, threadfin salmon, mulloway, tailor, cod, bream, flathead, sharks and others are regularly caught. When lure or bait fishing you never know what that next hookup may produce.
The lower reaches from the Gateway Bridge to the mouth are the most heavily fished but quality fish can be caught right along its length. There are numerous spots that regularly hold baitfish, prawns and predating species however relevant species can travel up and down with the tide and therefore may caught almost anywhere at times.
Popular areas include the Oil Pipeline, Claras Rocks, the ledge up from the Sewerage Chute, Caltex Reach, Gateway Bridge, Newstead Reach, the Reclaim Wall, the Sunken Wall, adjacent to the numerous jetties plus around the dredges. Having a good sounder and an intimate knowledge of its workings can definitely short track your road to success.
Live baiting with mullet, prawns, herring, gar and pike is one successful method that will take fish for boaties and shore-based anglers alike. Baits should be fished close to the bottom with a minimum of lead.
Lure fishing is easiest from a boat and is highly successful for thinking anglers working the various depths and declines along the rivers length. There’s a broad array of productive lures on the market and to be honest I believe it is often more important where you put the offering than the style or brand.
Jighead rigged soft plastics will tempt almost every species in the river and I generally opt for shad/baitfish profiles or prawn/shrimp profiles. Lipless vibration baits, blades, minnow lures and sinking stick-baits can all work well.
There are so many options for anglers in the Brisbane River throughout April with prominent species being bream, flathead, mulloway, threadfin and snapper. Hopping plastics down prominent declines or slow rolling them around vertical structure is a good place to start for those new to fishing the Brisbane River with lures.
April can be a great month for pelagics in Moreton Bay especially tuna. Longtails are the most hotly targeted species however mac tuna, frigates and several bonito varieties can be caught. While longtail tuna can be found almost anywhere throughout the bay at times, there are a few key areas that are worth initial investigation during your search.
The Pearl Channel, Greasy Hole, Rous Channel, Gilligans Island, Harry Atkinson precinct, Measured Mile to Four Beacons zone, Shark Spit and major shipping channels are all worth a look. Just outside the bay you can search along the front of Bribie Island’s beach from Skirmish Point to Caloundra plus the Caloundra Four Mile and Western Rocks locales.
If longtails are actively feeding on the surface then the historically productive method of casting small baitfish profiled chromed slices and slugs and then retrieving them flat out will generally work. Results are most likely when the profile of the slug or slice matches that of the baitfish on which the tuna are feeding and you are using a reel that retrieves at least 1m of line per turn of the handle.
Sometimes you’ll find longtails feeding in a less frantic and more scattered arrangement. In this situation, I cast a small baitfish profiled fly into the general area on an intermediate line then allow it to sink like a wounded baitfish. The fly is often eaten in a casual manner by cruising longtails and a strip-strike is employed to set the hook.
However, for those not fluent with the techniques required for swoffing (saltwater flyfishing) there are several other approaches worth trying. Sub-surface rigid stickbaits and jerkbait style soft plastics can be worked throughout the area with a walk-the-dog retrieve. While natural baitfish imitating tones work well, a bubblegum pink colour is surprisingly productive as well.
Poppers and floating stickbaits are also worth trying because you never know what will interest these often-pedantic torpedoes on any given day.
For those who like targeting longtails on flyfishing tackle, The Bribie Island Sport Fishing Club are again hosting The Longtail Tuna Fly Fishing Challenge on May 19-20. Call Jeff Sorrell on 07 3284 2632 for more details. I hope to see you there.
Live baiting for longtails using yakkas, slimey mackerel, gar and pike can be very effective and will often entice the larger trophy specimens in excess of 15kg. Try around the various shipping channel beacons in the northern bay, Shark Spit, Four Beacons, Curtain Artificial, Hanlon Light, Douglas Light and out from the shark nets on Bribie Island.
There may still be a few mackerel about during April, mainly schoolies, so it will be worth jigging the beacons or drifting a pilchard in their general area.
Whenever fishing anywhere adjacent the bay islands or around the artificial reefs or wrecks, it pays to have a pilchard out under a balloon for the odd mackerel or other quality species that ventures by. Drifting pilchards in the eastern end of the Rous Channel will often produce school mackerel especially on an early morning rising tide.
Prawning is generally fairly good throughout April. While the creeks and rivers will continue to hold decent numbers worthy of the effort, there are a few key areas where the better concentrations are often found.
The mouth of the Logan River is one such location and a few hours here can often be very rewarding with several kilos of tasty crustaceans for your effort. With banana prawns generally fetching in excess of 20kg, putting in the effort to get your 10L limit is well worthwhile.
April can be a fairly assorted month as far as species prominence is concerned however there is generally a good mix on offer. Anglers generally find the fishing is fairly consistent throughout Moreton Bay and the various creeks and rivers that filter into it. Lower water clarity generally results in higher concentrations of baitfish in the bay margins and estuaries and therefore an increase in predatory activity throughout these areas.
The fishing is usually more reliable throughout the inshore waters than the offshore grounds, which is a bonus considering the price of fuel these days. With the average temperatures being a few degrees cooler and the inshore angling activity prominent, the school holidays offer great opportunity and conditions to get the family out onto the water to also enjoy our favourite activity. Hope to see you thereReads: 585