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Snapper season showcase
  |  First Published: April 2013



I’m predicting big things this April, we have had a tonne of rain in the previous month to give the rivers a good flush, which should also stir up the offshore species. Get ready for April, as it should hold some hot action!

There will be a wide range of offshore species on offer this month, starting with snapper. 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 the 42 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 best for this, spooled with 20-30lb monofilament line. I like the mono line because it allows a more natural bait presentation and I lose less fish due to hooks pulling.

Any bait will work on its given day when snapper fishing but the humble pilly is pretty hard to beat most of the time; although I’ve caught quality fish on flesh baits such as mullet and tuna. Try to use the lightest sinker you can get away with, anything 1/2oz to 1 1/2oz will usually do the trick. I run my sinker right onto my hooks and most of the time I’ll use gang hooks.

Mustad 7766 hooks are really good for ganging; they are strong and, with the aid of a file, sharpen up just fine. I think gangs are an advantage particularly when there are a few stray mackerel or tailor present.

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 after a few feet of free spool set your hook.

A few decent 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 70 fathoms and beyond will hold blues. But 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.

Using 50lb lines are a minimum in blue marlin territory and 80 and 130lb tackle is 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 and Lively Lure blue pillies, can be a very effective method. When it comes to speed, try to troll as fast as possible but still allow the lure to track straight and not come out of the water.

I try to steer away from wire with my mackerel lure and by using 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 mean the difference in catching your bag limit and going home heartbroken.

INSHORE

In April you will start to see a few more school mulloway showing up in our local estuaries.

To catch schoolies successfully you must study the tides very closely, as mulloway 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 less flow (change of tide).

School mulloway will take a wide range of lures; I like soft plastics when targeting mulloway but in recent times I have had success on metal vibes.

My best catches have been on plastic in a jerk minnow style, such as 5” and 7” Gulp Jerk Shads and 6” Atomic jerk Minnows, but when the tide has completely stopped it’s worth trying a shad style tail. Jigheads will range from 1/2-1 1/2oz.

In the past months I have been using more and more heavily weighted lipless crankbaits when fishing for schoolies and the best I’ve found is the Ecogear VT20 and the locally made Thready Busters. This lure sinks quickly and can be found with or without a rattle. A rattle is a big help when fish are seeing plenty of lures or if the water is dirty.

When trying to locate the sometimes elusive mulloway, concentrate your efforts on deep holes, deep drop-offs and break walls near the mouth of creeks or rivers. The Southport seaway holds mulloway 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, hardiheads or even stripped flesh baits such as mullet or gar. I use about a size 1 hook with a medium length shank such as a Mustad Aberdeen or something similar, with a trace of around a metre long and try to use a fairly light sinker; around a 4 ball is a nice all round weight.

At the top of the tide most sand banks will hold some decent 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. With the aid of a yabby pump and a sieve you can most times have all the bait you will ever need and it’s not bad fun either. I use the same rig as for the bream only stick with a smaller hook, like a size 6 or 4.

After the massive amounts of rain we have had in the first few months of this year, the mud crabs will be in plague proportions. I prefer the rectangular shaped collapsible style pots for chasing muddies; the reason for his is they catch them quickly! I find that when I am running my pots I can basically start at my first pot and by the time I have checked them all, you can start checking them again, especially if you are running 12 pots. The legal requirement in Queensland is 4 pots per person, so make sure you have 3 people in the boat.

I don’t really have a preferred bait but I will usually use chicken frames mixed with whatever fish scraps I have available. I think what is more important is that your bait is fresh. Try setting your pots on drop-offs and in creek mouths and if this rain continues try the main channels in the deepest sections.

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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