I’m predicting big things this April, we have had a tonne of rain in the previous month to give the rivers a flush and stir up the offshore species. So get ready this month as it should hold some hot action!
There will be a wide range of offshore species on offer in April starting with snapper. As the current is slowing, more and more boats will be out chasing these little red devils and this bit of fresh will bring them on the chew. As always, the 18s 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.
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 much less fish are lost due to hooks pulling.
Any bait will work on its given day when snapper fishing but I think the humble pillie 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 usually does the trick. Run the sinker right onto the 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. 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 nice 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. A 50lb line is a minimum in blue marlin territory but 80-130lb tackle is far more suitable. Lures ranging from 9-16” work best in our area and it’s always safe to run a range of colours, shapes and sizes.
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 effectively caught.
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 use 80lb single strand wire, it’s nice and thin so your lures can dive a bit deeper. Once again when trolling look for birds circling or diving, this very simple sign can mean the difference in catching your bag limit or going home heartbroken.
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 they are a fish that 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 have had success on metal vibes. My best catches have been on plastic in a jerk minnow style, such as 5-7” Gulp jerk shads and 6” Atomic jerk minnows. However, when the tide has completely stopped it’s worth trying a shad style tail. Jigheads will range from 1/2 to 1 1/2oz.
In the past months I have been using more and more heavily weighted lipless crankbaits when fishing for schoolies and by far the best I’ve found is one out of the Ecogear stable, a VT20g, 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 this sometimes elusive species, concentrate your efforts on deep holes, deep drop-offs and break walls near the mouth of your creek or river. 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 1m long, and try to use a fairly light sinker around a 4 ball.
At the top of the tide most sand banks will hold some nice summer whiting along with the start of the winter whiting. These tasty little devils are very popular sport and great fun to catch and fresh bait is the key to 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 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, because 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 with a few mates (the legal requirement in Queensland is 4 pots per person). I don’t really have a preferred bait but I will usually use chicken frames mixed with whatever fish scraps I have available. 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.Reads: 790