April is a month of transition as the offshore current slows down a bit and the water temperature drops a few degrees.
For game fishers, April is a great month to target blue marlin on the wide grounds. So far this season the big blues have been a bit hit and miss and the current has been running hard to the south at about 2 knots on most days.
Additionally, the rough conditions have reduced the number of fishable days. Despite this, there have been quite a few decent blues to 200kg tagged on the fishable days with most boats getting a few shots when the conditions are good.
Troll the drop-off out wide of the 50 fathom reef this month, and expect most of the bites on tide changes in depths of between 140-300m. Use at least 24kg tackle with 37kg being a much safer option. Good lures include Black Snacks ‘Bad Benny’, Pakula Sprockets and Meridian Ahis.
It is a game of patience, but by-catch this month should include solid yellowfin tuna and wahoo. We recently got blown to pieces by a big blue marlin on stand up 37kg gear out of my 6m tinny. It is hard to call exactly how big this one was but I’ve seen a lot of blues and this one was a beast way out of our league fishing 2-up from a tinny.
In closer to shore, April is a good month to chase Spanish mackerel and wahoo. Trolling high speed lures like Hex Heads can be very effective if the water is clean and blue, and trolled tuna is another deadly method. Work the blue water on a run-in tide early in the morning and troll at around 12 knots. Good areas include the Gravel Patch off Burleigh, the Tweed Nine Mile reef and the 24 fathom reef east of Southport. Slow trolled dead baits and hardbodied minnows are also effective.
Palm Beach Reef and Mermaid Reef should produce both Spanish and spotted mackerel this month. Anchoring up and berleying is a great way to bring the fish to you. A steady stream of chopped pilchards usually has any inquisitive mackerel come to the back of the boat where they eat pilchards and metal lures.
With the huge amount of summer rain the inshore reefs should fish well for a few juvenile snapper and tailor as well as a few decent mulloway at night. There has been plenty of bait in the dirty water and the fish activity should improve as the water clears.
This month is a good one to try mixing up your tactics. Anchor on a good pinnacle, berley and set a live bait down deep and another on the surface, and fish deep soft plastics and pilchards as well. This gives you a good chance at anything from a snapper to a billfish.
Out on the 36 and 50 fathom line the pearl perch will start to bite as the current slows and there should also be a few juvenile snapper and parrotfish around.
Jigging is worth trying if the current slows down, and April generally produces a few kingies and amberjacks out wide. Deep live baiting is another good option, with big slimy mackerel being the gun bait.
As the water cools a lot of fish will begin to move around the estuary. There is a lot more action on the flats as whiting and bream become active chasing prawns.
April is a great month to chase whiting and bream on poppers. The key is to find an area where there is a lot of prawn activity. Small shrimps, greasy prawns and banana prawns should be in big numbers and most of the fish are actively hunting them. I’ve found the Lucky Craft Sammy to be my favourite surface lure when the prawns are about. They certainly get the bites. We were recently working the top of the flats near Crab Island in quite dirty water on ultra light gear when our poppers were nailed by 60-70cm GT. That takes quite a while to sort out on a whiting rig!
Jacks tend to slow down in their activity this month and a lot of the bigger fish move towards the rock walls around the Seaway entrance. They eat both live bait and lures and are quite difficult to pull out of their rocky holes. Small mullet, slimies or yakkas cast right into the white water at the end of the north wall with a small sinker often get slammed by big jacks. This method also produces mulloway, tailor and trevally. The jacks tend to be right in on the rocks, so when you get a take don’t let the fish run too far.
Hopefully we will see a good banana prawns season this year with all the rain, and the areas around Cabbage Tree Point, Horizon Shores and Jacobs Well should all be worth a look this month for anyone interested in cast-netting prawns. It is hard to predict what the season will be like at the moment, but good years are generally preceded by plenty of rain.
April is a great crabbing month on the Gold Coast for mud crabs and sand crabs. With all the rain the crabbing has been quite spectacular, with plenty of big muddies in the deep water after the big freshwater flow down the rivers and creeks. As the water clears the weed beds and sand flats in the main Broadwater should produce plenty of sand crabs.
Overall, April is a very productive month to fish both the estuaries and offshore grounds of the Gold Coast. Hopefully with good weather and a dry month we should have some great fishing.
April produces great crabbing action. Mitch Calcutt and his mate caught 18 muddies in 3 hours.
Franco Martinese with a great 89cm mullet he caught using live mullet. The summer rains should bring them on this month.
Palm Beach Reef and Mermaid Reef should produce decent Spaniards this month, like the one Helen Zaho caught recently.Reads: 930