Autumn free-for-all
  |  First Published: April 2012

April is shaping up to be a bumper for some cracking fishing bass and bream action.

The water has had time to settle after the freshes that pushed down the Clarence over the past two months and as the clean water pushes to the tops of most tributaries, the bass will follow, triggering some awesome topwater action.

There’ll be quite a lot of small bass taking up residence but pick through them and you will be rewarded with bigger specimens.

The bream have started to move back up river but won't venture too far because it won’t be long before they start to school along the very popular Middle Wall.

Blades and plastics will be the pick for targeting these fish down deep, locating these fish on your sounder makes the job a lot easier.

Work your blades quite slowly, moving your rod tip only enough to feel the lure vibrate. The same goes with plastics, basically dead-sticking them like bait because the fish are in a shut-down mood getting into spawning mode.

If you can see fish on your sounder but they aren't biting, don't drive off and leave them. Some time during the tidal change they will become active.

The top of the tide will be the most productive as those big blue-lipped oyster-crunching bream push in on the clean water.


Don't discount Browns Rocks and Palmers Island for some quality jewfish.

Live herring will bring the bigger models undone as well as some whopper flathead by-catch.

April also is the beginning of the season for flathead in the Maclean Broadwater. A salty pocket of water will be trapped in there, acting as a FAD for the flathead.

It’s then time to drift the flats, casting and retrieving a selection of blades and soft plastics, black and gold being the most productive colour. At times you can have hours off enjoyment, hauling in one after another – just remember to keep only enough fish for your immediate needs and release the rest so they’re there for next time.

Whiting will also come back onto the agenda as the clear water comes in over the flats at the top of the tide.

Yabbies, worms, and the very popular surface lures will work a treat. Target the last of the run in and the first of the run out as the water pushes the fish and the bait off the flats into slightly deeper water.


For the rock enthusiasts, the water has become warm and clear enough for the longtail tuna to show.

The Iluka wall is the most popular spot, although some are always taken off Woody Head and The Bluff as well.

Throw a large popper in front of a school of longtails chasing the baitfish. Make the popper imitate a fleeing garfish and the result will be a screaming drag and a fully loaded rod hooked up to one of the quickest fish around.

Live bait like garfish or slimy mackerel underneath a bobby cork or a balloon also works.

During April the breakwalls will be a hive of activity. Big snowy bream will start to push in and the run of big jewfish should kick off, which means lots of sleepless nights chucking lures around for these big fellas.

Let’s hope the weather gods let us head offshore a bit more often because it’s only a matter of time before the cool current starts pushing through.

The close reefs are still producing some great mackerel on floating baits intended for snapper and the odd one is being trolled up on pink squid.

March was really consistent on the reefs for snapper and this will continue into April, with a wide range of plastics and cut baits working well.

The grounds south of the bar as far down as Sandon will be the pick spots and some nice pearl perch and trag will keep the rods bending in between the big reds.

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