Warm window closes
  |  First Published: April 2013

This month spells the last dregs of the warm water, which means the time for consistently chasing estuary predators like mangrove jack and barra is coming to a close. The good news is these fish really can sense the cold weather closing in and will therefore feed up before going into their winter hibernation.

This is not to say that barra won’t be on the bite through the colder months, however bite periods do become shorter in the colder months that makes tempting them to feed just that little bit harder.

If there is a prime time to fish for barra and jacks in April it would have to be the lead up to the full moon; you can almost guarantee quality fishing. The four days prior are a suitable time to begin your hunt for these fish, in particular barra which become stupidly predictable this time of year. There is a good chance if you find them in one spot on a certain tide they will be there the next day. Once you are able to put together a bit of pattern your fishing will improve dramatically.

If jacks are more your target species, then it is best to focus your attention on low tides around the full moon. The other positive aspect to the jack fishing in April is the water generally begins to clear up as the monsoon rain is usually dissipated by this time. This is a big plus for lure anglers as jacks are heavy sight feeders and clear water usually sees better catches of fish.

When chasing barra it’s hard to go past suspending and shallow diving minnows and the smoking Drags Interceptor 115 has been one hardbody that has really been producing the goods this season. Being able to drag that lure down into the face of the fish and then let it suspend and slowly rise mid water will bring on an attack 9 out of 10 times.

Another old favourite that has been producing barra has been the Richos Extractor. I am a firm believer that timber lures have a slight advantage over plastic lures due to their buoyancy and the Richo is one that has plenty of scale on the board when it comes to barra.

If you are after jacks, I prefer the smaller to medium lures like the Reidy’s Lucifer or Koolabung Herrings. These smaller lures are great for working around structure and fit nicely in the corner of a big jack’s mouth. Jacks are really aggressive in April so make sure you aren’t fishing for bream as you will be leaving with your tail between your legs. With plenty of warm months under their belts feeding up, expect to run into a few fish that will scare the braid off your bait caster!

Moving out of the creek, the inshore bommies and reefs and wrecks around Bowen’s headlands become a very interesting place to fish in April. The larger jacks and fingermark begin to move out of the creeks this time of year and begin making their way out to the outer reefs. This translates into some awesome fishing and places that are usually dominated by small nannygai and trevally become a veritable hot spot for these fish. The key to getting them to bite is using fresh live baits of fish or squid. If you can’t get live bait, fresh dead is the next best thing. It will definitely pay dividends to invest time in collecting livies this time of year as the better fish will be down there.

Soft plastics are a viable alternative and some of the more productive makes this year have been the Gulp Nemesis and Z-Man StreakZ. These larger profile plastics are big fish takers and when fished through a well placed drift over shoals and wrecks will produce plenty of action. It’s not hard to locate these spots in Bowen and a basic Navionics map on a chart plotter will detail where they can be found. Don’t assume these spots are fished out, as this time of year they act as stopover as jacks, reds and golden snapper move into deeper water.

The other piscatorial event worth a mention for April will be the onset of bait schools moving into the bay. This will bring plenty of long tail and mac tuna, which will put a smile on plenty of sport fishers faces. Casting metal slugs into feeding schools of tuna will see your drag screaming in no time. Metal lures may be cheap these days but do yourself a favour and upgrade your rings and trebles as they will cop a hammering from these fish.

Next month these bait schools will begin dragging in the mackerel and the grey macks should be the first to show up. The last two years have seen healthy populations of big grey mackerel up to 10kg in late May so here’s hoping they will return once again. Crabs will also be on the run in May and this is prime time for them. Forget about not catching crabs in months without the letter R as May is my favourite time to drop in a few pots.

On a sad note it looks as though the value of our fishing grounds in Bowen has been forgotten with the dredging and dumping of soil in the pristine waters off Bowen looking more and more likely to occur. We can only hope the plumes of acid sulphate soils caused by the dredging and dumping will not cause the same environmental effects as other ports along the east coast of Queensland.

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