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April angling action ahead
  |  First Published: April 2013



Due to regular downpours throughout Southern Queensland during February and March, the waters of most estuaries, creeks, rivers, and well into Moreton Bay have remain discoloured. This has been a bonus for anglers with good quantities of bait and predating fish in these areas. As such, there’s a broad array of piscators and crustaceans on offer throughout April.

Let’s look at the numerous options for those venturing out this month.

SNAPPER

When the shallows around the bay islands are not very clear, there’s decent numbers of snapper and other species to be caught in this zone. These species feel less conspicuous in the shallows while venturing to this area in search of the prominent baitfish.

Many anglers successfully use soft plastics and other artificial offerings in these areas. However, while doing this form of fishing, stealth is of utmost importance and an electric motor is highly desirable as a way to manoeuvre without spooking every fish within 100m. Generally anglers will drift while casting their offerings and simply use the electric to keep them on their chosen drift path. Some of the newer Minn Kota I-Pilot models allow a drift path to be retained and the motor will then keep you on track during subsequent drifts without you having to constantly adjust your course manually. This makes it a lot easier, however, you can still fish the shallows without this technology.

Even if you don’t have any electric motor, you can predict your chosen drift path then cast as you drift at the mercy of the wind and/or current. Side imaging sounders, like my Humminbird 898, will allow you to pinpoint individual fish or bait schools cruising throughout the shallows. Often one cast is all that is needed to get you hooked up to a big snapper.

Artificials, including plastics, blades, vibration baits, hardbody minnows, flies and many others, can work when in experienced hands. This experience only comes from getting out and using these offerings regularly. You will soon master the techniques involved and be able to locate likely holding zones for quality fish on a regular basis if you put in the hard yards.

There is no quick way to get this experience although fishing with experienced anglers can speed up the process a bit. Experimentation and observation can turn the tables on the tougher days and increase your chance of success.

Plastics such as jerk shads are generally a good way to get started into the wonderful world of fishing for snapper with plastics. They are easy to use and produce results and there are plenty of offerings to try. Luckily, snapper are not too particular and will hit most plastics put in front of them.

Bait fishing these zones can also be highly productive, however you will need to anchor well up from your chosen location and drift the lightly weighted baits back into the zone for the best chance at success. A wide variety of baits can produce however I prefer whole fish baits (hardiheads, pilchards, whitebait, gar) or fillet baits (mullet, gar, pike, tuna). Squid and even raw chicken fillets can work well for snapper, sweetlip and others.

SWEETLIP

While grassy sweetlip are coincidental captures by anglers targeting snapper, specific targeting can increase your results. They are more commonly found a little wider of the reef and rubble where anglers commonly try for snapper. Therefore, fishing these zones will increase results on any given day.

The eastern side of Green Island is one area where sweetlip are often found in better numbers and sizes. The northern and western sides of Mud Island are also productive zones, especially the areas adjacent to the main reef where the bottom starts to level out.

These areas can still be fished with plastics for sweeties, although I have caught some of my larger specimens on bait, mainly squid heads, pike fillets and gar fillets.

Generally the hour before dawn and 30 minutes after sun up will produce the best results, with a hot bite often experienced just as the sun breaks over the horizon.

PRAWNS

The run of prawns has been a little late this year, possibly due to the rains. As such, April is a great month to get out the cast net and secure a few of these tasty crustaceans.

Most of the major river systems will be worth a try, especially the Brisbane and Logan. When the prawns are on it is often mayhem with several boats and cast netters in a small area all trying their luck.

However this activity isn’t limited to those with boats as good quantities of prawns can be located by those casting from the shore. The Brisbane River has several popular areas including the Colmslie Jetty, Newstead Jetty and the Boat Passage pontoon. Deepwater Bend on the Pine River is another successful and easily accessible location, as are the Woody Point, Sandgate, Victoria Point and Wellington Point jetties.

Cast nets are limited to a 12ft drop and you are allowed a maximum of a 10L bucket of prawns per person. Cast nets with the addition of a top pocket will catch more prawns and also make it easier to get the prawns out of the net as they become trapped in the top pocket that can then be opened from the top to get them out easily.

The flats out from Nudgee and Cleveland and the Powerlines on the Logan are other areas where netters commonly get good hauls of prawns. Mostly you will get large banana prawns, however a few tiger prawns will also grace your haul. Smaller banana prawns and greasy prawns can be used for bait but be aware that these will still be included in your 10L bucket limit.

CRABS

The crabbing has been excellent this summer as the heavy rains flushed the mud crabs out from their hidey holes well up the creeks, rivers and drains and out into Moreton Bay. They have slowly made their way back up the various systems during the last two months however many have been tempted into pots baited with fresh fish frames, mullet and chicken carcasses.

All creek and river systems have produced great results however you need to keep an eye on your pots as some unscrupulous individuals believe they can check any pot they come across. I have had mine raided on several occasions which is rather annoying after going to the effort of setting them. However most trips have resulted in several legal bucks (males) being taken amongst the hordes of large jennies (females) and undersize specimens that must be returned to the water quickly.

Mud crabs have been caught well out into Moreton bay and around the bay islands as well.

Sand crabs have also been around in decent numbers throughout Moreton Bay and crabbers have used the same safety pots and baits to target these. Often in some areas you may get both mud and sand crabs in the same pot. Setting your pots in the gutters and contours surrounding the bay islands will often reward with several quality sand crabs per pot. These have a different minimum size limit and way of measuring so ensure to check current regulations before heading out.

BAY PELAGICS

Moreton Bay can often hold good numbers of pelagics during April however with the varied conditions and altered weather patterns, it is anyone’s guess as to whether this will be the case in 2013.

Longtail tuna numbers can be very healthy with good numbers often located along the front of Bribie Island (from Caloundra to Gilligan’s Island), in the Pearl Channel, North-West Channel and often further south throughout Moreton Bay.

Smaller tuna species including mack and frigate, as well as bonito, can also be located irregularly. Often these can be hard to tempt as they are eating fairly small baitfish, therefore it pays to try several offerings to source one they like. These offerings can include chromed slugs and slices, soft plastic jerk shads, stickbaits, poppers and flies. In fact, the fly fishers often get the most consistent results due to their ability to deliver very small baitfish profiled flies.

Fly fishing for tuna can be a lot of fun and many years ago it spurned a series of longtail tuna fly fishing tournaments, the first instigated by the Bribie Island Sportfishing Club in 1997. This competition is due to be run again on May 25 and 26 so if you have ever wanted to find out more about catching this awesome fish on fly or just want a great weekend amongst like-minded anglers then call Jeff Sorrel on (07) 3284 2632 or Peter Griffiths on (07) 3265 2926 to find out the details.

There may still be a few school mackerel lurking about during April. Working over the numerous shipping channel beacons with chrome slices and slugs or possibly even whole pilchards or live baits could reward you with a few tasty macks for the table.

Drifting a pilchard out around the bay islands could also be worth the effort for mackerel or possibly even an occasional quality snapper. The Measured Mile is a regular producer of quality school and spotted mackerel. Most anglers generally anchor up and drift out gang-hook rigged pilchards. Berleying with a steady stream of pilchard slices can also bring the mackerel to your area, entice them to bite and hold them in the vicinity longer.

BRISBANE RIVER

April is generally a good month for fishing the Brisbane River. Prominent species can include king threadfin salmon, mulloway, snapper, estuary cod and flathead to name a few.

With the degree of downfall experienced throughout the past few months and a healthy flush of many systems, including the Brisbane River, anglers will find good concentrations of baitfish in the nutrient rich waters. These will attract larger predators into these systems as there is a healthy food supply and these larger fish feel less conspicuous in the discoloured waters.

There should be a few better quality mulloway throughout April and this winter should be a cracker for this species throughout the southern part of the state. I have caught quite a few in recent months with some sessions producing as many as a dozen mulloway, however few have been legal. Regardless, they are great fun to catch on moderate line classes and are easy to unhook and release in a healthy state.

Conversely, king threadfin salmon suffer badly when caught on lighter line and will often not swim away healthy after release. The best option is to not remove them from the water or handle them while unhooking and releasing. Like mulloway, this awesome sportsfish can be caught on both live baits and lures.

The threadfin can be located as far up the river as Mount Crosby but the reaches between Indooroopilly and the mouth of the river are generally the most commonly fished, especially from the Gateway Bridge down. Live offerings can include mullet, prawns, herring, pike and gar. Even the humble frozen pilchard or mullet fillet will tempt them at times.

Snapper are probably going to be caught around Claras Rocks, the various wharves near the mouth (beware of restrictions) and the retaining wall at the mouth.

Flathead can show up almost anywhere at times but the mouth of Boggy Creek is generally consistent.

Estuary cod are often taken from the Sunken Wall, around the bases of the jetty pylons and along the retaining wall. However it is often surprising what shows up where so if you have a lure or quality bait in the water then you are in with a great chance of catching a quality specimen of some sort.

ESTUARIES

Most estuaries should fish fairly well although this will be dependent on how much rain we have received during March. Anglers regularly target flathead, mangrove jack, mulloway, cod, bream and trevally in the creeks and estuaries however species such as tailor, hairtail, tarpon, threadfin and others are additionally caught.

Both the Pumicestone Passage and Jumpinpin area will be worth checking out as well as the numerous creeks and rivers that feed into Moreton Bay. Owning a boat is not a prerequisite for quality captures. Some good land-based options can include jetties (Woody Point, Wellington Point, Victoria Point and Scarborough), Deepwater Bend on the Pine River, Kedron Brook Floodway and the Colmslie Jetty and Newstead Jetty on the Brisbane River.

Just as a point of note, I use the Beacon to Beacon as a naming reference when writing this column. I recently noticed a good deal of difference between this publication, Hooked In Paradise and the Government green zone maps in the naming of the various waterways in the Cabbage Tree Creek to Airport area. Names such as Jacksons Creek, Serpentine Creek, Kedron Brook Floodway and Nudgee Creek appeared on different waterways in each publication. Not sure who is exactly correct, if any, but for future reference I use Beacon to Beacon.

CONCLUSION

April can be a great month to wet a line. With the proportion of bad weather, rain and wind we have experienced early in the year, I am sure plenty of anglers are busting to get amongst some quality fish.

Most waters should fish exceptionally during April so make sure the boat is serviced, your tackle is stocked and ready, and leave passes are organised so you can get amongst the action. There is plenty of awesome April angling action ahead so get out onto the water to take advantage of the numerous species on offer.

1

Sand crab numbers have been excellent throughout Moreton Bay and keen crabbers have managed decent numbers of these tasty crustaceans.

2

Quality snapper have been showing up throughout the bay on a regular basis for some anglers.

3

Shads such as this Castaic Jerky J are ideal for targeting mulloway throughout the estuaries. The Brisbane River and other systems will hold good numbers during April and into the cooler months.

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