April should be a good month to chase bigger Spanish mackerel and wahoo. So far the mackerel season has been excellent with a lot of smaller Spaniards and a lot of spotted mackerel caught on all the close reefs inside of 24 fathoms on a fairly reliable basis. There has been plenty of bait and a lot of boats have been out chasing a feed of mackerel.
This month sees the water cool slightly and in general the Spanish mackerel increase in size as a lot more large female fish migrate into the area. Targeting the bigger mackerel is best done using large trolled baits such as small tuna, or by fishing big lures and stickbaits. There should be quite a few fish in the 15-20kg range this month.
In close to shore there is also a good ‘return run’ of spotted mackerel. Every year these fish migrate south into NSW, and as the more southern waters cool they turn back north and enter Queensland between April and June, depending on the season. These spotties have generally bulked up during their southern migration and fish of 6kg and more are relatively common. Areas such as Palm Beach and Mermaid Reef can produce excellent spotted mackerel fishing in April.
April is probably the best month of the year to chase wahoo off the Gold Coast. The Tweed Nine Mile Reef is one of the most popular spots, and big wahoo over 20kg can be common when the current is running.
I like to mix up my methods when chasing these great fish. I generally start the morning with an hour of high-speed trolling using the locally made Hex Heads on wire traces. These lures troll easily at 10-15 knots and 12 knots seems to be the optimal speed. At this pace the bites are outstanding. The ratchets on the reels absolutely scream. I tend to use the bigger model Hex Heads on 24kg tackle for this. It works well early in the morning when the sea surface is smooth.
My ‘wahoo Plan B’ is generally to troll small live tuna. These can be caught spinning and are then trolled on a 2-hook rig on wire at about 2 knots with the reel in gear. This is a great way to catch big mackerel and wahoo but sharks can be a problem at times. If you see schools of small tuna about they can usually be caught on small cast slugs or by trolling small Christmas trees or squids. This is a deadly method and also catches marlin. The biggest black marlin I’ve ever hooked off the Gold Coast ate a small trolled tuna on a close reef and I lost it 4 hours later and over 20km from where it was hooked.
Out wider there should be good blue marlin action out wide of the shelf and a few black marlin around the 80m line depending on the amount of bait present. April is generally a very good month to chase blue marlin on the wider grounds beyond the 100m line. The bottom fishing this month will be controlled by current, but should improve a bit for squire and pearl perch as the water cools. Overall, for the offshore angler April is a great month to chase long, toothy, fast fish.
As the water cools down and the prevailing winds start to swing a bit more westerly, it is time to chase banana prawns. This season has already seen reasonable catches at the northern end of the Gold Coast around Russell Island and Jacobs Well. A 10L bucket per person is the bag limit. Cast net on the run-out tides and watch out for clusters of boats. A sounder is a big help as it lets you locate prawns easily. Remember to take a few rope extensions as the prawns can often be in over 10m of water and often school up in the deeper holes.
This month is the last good opportunity to have a crack at a decent mangrove jack before they go quiet in the cooler months. At this time of year a lot of big jacks move into the Seaway area and take up residence around the rock walls. Deeply worked plastics and jigs can be effective but small live baits fished close to the rocks catch some great jacks over 50cm most years at this time. You can also expect mulloway, a few GTs and flathead on deep live baits. There have been some big schools of mulloway in the Seaway and at Jumpinpin but bull sharks have been quite ferocious and a lot of fish have been eaten by sharks during the fight.
Flathead start to increase in numbers this month and the best catches are usually around Tipplers, Gold Bank and in the Kalinga Bank area. Most of the fish are between 40 and 50cm at this time of year and respond well to plastics, blades and small trolled lures. There should also be quite a few tailer, pike, bream and small trevally as bycatch.
Catching whiting on poppers is another fun way to fish this month. As the small prawns increase in numbers on the flats the whiting will improve in numbers. My favourite whiting surface lures are the Lucky Craft Sammy, the Bassday Sugar Pen and the Rebel Pop’R. I find small chemically sharpened trebles improve the hook-up rate and if you use double or triple split rings to the trailing hook it improves results by putting the hook a bit further back. Tiny assist hooks on Kevlar leader are another option. Wind fast and keep the lure spitting a bit of water ahead of it.
Overall, April is a good month for fishing the Gold Coast. When the weather is good it is time to load up on mackerel and wahoo fillets for the freezer, and in the estuaries a good feed of banana prawns and whiting make it a great month to catch a feed.Reads: 1400