The weather may be cooling off now, but April is another one of our best months on the Central Coast. A great variety is on offer and a few species are at their peak at this time of year, including bream and jewfish.
Blackfish should also be around in good numbers along the rocks and although they’re generally regarded as a Winter species, I’ve enjoyed some of my best catches during April and May.
The usual green cabbage baits are normally the first choice when rock fishing but don’t forget those small tufts of dark brown fluffy weed which are a pain to bait up with. If you can get them to stay on the hook long enough you’ll certainly catch blackfish.
This is the best time of year to berley up with some white bread and use the same bread as bait – blackfish eagerly scoff down this stuff.
Drummer, bream, sweep, mullet and trevally also respond well to white bread, so mixed bags of fish are common.
Bonito and kings have been swimming close in along the rocks over the past few months and they’ll still be around now.
Frigate mackerel may also zoom in, especially through the more protected bays like Terrigal Haven and inside Pelican Point.
Some of the bigger kingfish lurk closer to shore as the water temps just start to drop a bit, so try casting big soft plastics, poppers or, better still, a live garfish or live squid.
South Avoca, Wybung Head, Snapper Point and the deeper ledges north and south of Catherine Hill Bay are prime king places.
If you have a strong desire to pin your first jewfish off the beach, put aside all other plans because this is the month to do it.
Catching jewfish is all about planning, focus and persistence. Like all good things, it does take time and a lot of that time needs to be for bait gathering.
If you’re new to the jewfish game, forget about lures. Top quality bait is by far the best way to go when it comes to beach jewfish.
Squid, beachworms, tailor heads and mullet heads are right at the top of the list. Yes, other baits like live yakkas, smaller live mullet, pike, garfish and even pillies will score jewfish bites but by sticking to the four mentioned, you’ll be in with the very best chance.
As always, it’s important to catch your own bait because shop-bought bait often can be well below par.
The exception to this is good quality beachworms, which are available at a few bait and tackle shops around the area. To my way of thinking, beachworms can be a bit harder to catch than squid, tailor or mullet and most of the worms at bait shops are reasonably good.
I’ll never forget the time when I rocked up to North Entrance Beach with the aim of catching some fresh worms to use as bait later that evening. My worming efforts failed and with only an hour left before I needed to get a bait in the water, I quickly drove to one of the bait shops at The Entrance, bought a few worms, went back to the beach and caught a 12kg jewie just after sunset.
When it comes to squid, there are plenty of spots around our rocks where good-sized calamari squid can be caught. Those with a boat have access to endless squidding grounds close in around Norah Head and Swansea over shallow, kelpy reef.
A size 3 or 3.5 squid jig worked slowly and close to the bottom can secure half a dozen big calamari at this time of year, especially early in the morning or towards sunset.
If they’re not to be used within 24 hours, give them a quick rinse in seawater, wrap them in plastic bags and chuck them in the freezer.
Be very careful not to store your calamari in the same bag as other bait like pillies or fish. It’s important that calamari be kept separate or the scent and flavour of fish flesh can infiltrate the calamari, greatly degrading its natural scent.
That’s one of the main reasons commercially available squid is second rate to squid you’ve caught yourself. Keep your squid sealed and away from other bait and you’ll find that even after its been in the freezer for a month it will still be just as effective on jewfish as squid you’ve caught only an hour ago.
Don’t worry about those arrow squid that can be caught in Lake Macquarie, Swansea Channel or Brisbane Water; the larger ocean-dwelling calamari are 10 times better.
Bream are building in numbers along the rocks and beaches and through April and May they are among the more reliable species to target if you simply want a few fish for the table.
Whiting are still cruising the surf zone, as are flathead, tailor and salmon, so overall the beaches should be pretty good.
Inside Brisbane Water and the lakes we’ll still be able to chase bream and whiting on surface lures but once that first real cold snap hits, they’ll start to move into deeper areas where bait, blades or Gulp are better ways to go.
Offshore action should continue this month, with kingfish the prime targets for most anglers.
Surface fish like bonito and mack tuna are still around but depending on the current, they may start to move a bit wider out.
Bottom bouncing should result in the usual snapper, morwong and flathead and if you’re keen to fish after sunset then jewfish are definitely a good chance if you know the reefs to hit.
All up, this is a great month to fish. Now let’s see if we’re lucky enough for the weather to behave!Reads: 4840