April is one of the crazy months where you never know what might turn up in Bowen waters. The reason for this uncertainty boils down to how quickly water temps drop and whether we see an earlier than cool change.
One fact I do really love about April is that the weather tends to stabilise and the creeks and rivers begin to run a lot clearer, which is great news for lure fishers. Clearer water means fish are more likely to see lures, especially when they are deep in snags and this extra visibility will give the angler an extra advantage.
With the water stabilising so will water temps. This will mean fish like barra and jacks will feed more consistently throughout the day, unlike the warmer summer months where they tend to get very lethargic during the extreme heat of the middle of the day. Don’t get me wrong, early and late afternoons are still best suited for targeting these fish in creeks but tides often force anglers to fish outside these peak bite times and the cooler more consistent months of April will definitely be more forgiving.
Jacks and barra will be high on the list in April, and I have taken a PB fish during this month. This is because the run-off usually produces the most bait so fish coming off this time of the year are often well fed and large across the shoulders. The pick of the hardbody lures for both jacks and barra will be Lucky Craft 100mm SP pointers for jacks while the larger 200mm version will be well equipped to handle that metre barra.
The cooler water temps will mean fish will be a little less aggressive and this is where the suspending properties of hardbody lures, especially the Pointer will be invaluable. Being able to crank those lures down into the strike zone and then let them sit in front of the fish is the perfect strategy for getting your line tight.
If you’re a soft plastic fan it will be hard to go past the Berkley Hollow Belly Shad for barra while the Zman PogyZ and Diezel MinnowZ will be better suited for jacks. The one thing to remember when fishing softies this time of year is that if the water temp is cooler than usual then scale down your softies to suit. Moving from a 4-5” plastic to a 3” can sometimes be all that it takes to get the fish to bite. Don’t forget clearer water means lighter lines to improve the stealth of your offering, which can often mean halving what you usually use especially with leaders. You can usually get away with a heavy braid but leader is a different story all together. This is where having a quality fluorocarbon is so important as you can scale right down but still have plenty of strength and abrasiveness during the fight. For barra I only use Sunline FC100 when dropping below 20lb and Sunline Sniper when going from 10 down.
For those thinking offshore I’m sorry to say that April is typically dominated by strong southeast trade winds, which means finding a window of opportunity can be hard. However if the wind does drop, the good news is the fishing can be awesome.
The wider grounds east of Holbourne Island tend to produce good numbers of reds this time of the year and coral trout also tend to be in good numbers, especially in the shallow water. As water temps cool, especially offshore, the fish tend to be more active during the day and move closer towards islands and shallower reefs. This gets them off those hard to find and equally hard to fish small lumps in the middle of nowhere, which is where they sit during the warmer months.
Coral trout in particular become much more common around the islands, in particular Glouster and Middle Island and fishing the fringing ledges with plenty of berley will bring them to your hooks. Don’t discount flicking a few soft plastics and working along a reef ledge using large shads and grubs will bring out the larger fish.
Land-based anglers will not be forgotten in April, especially those targeting Bowen’s many coral-filled bays and rocky headlands. Smaller day tides and the absence of rainfall means the water in the bays clean up considerably, which brings in lots of bait that eventually drags in the predators. Fish like black spot tusk fish, coral trout and grass sweetlip are all on offer and, if you’re floating out a live bait, golden trevally, queen fish, mackerel and even cobia are on available, especially off Rose Bay and Horseshoe Bay.
My favourite land-based target in April is squid. There’s nothing as simple as rigging up a squid jig and heading down to the beach with a cold beverage in hand and smacking a big school of hungry squid. While they won’t pull your arms off (you need those to drink the beverage anyway) the visual aspect of watching a squid hunt down your jig at your feet is awesome. Not to mention they taste great as well! Calm clear water with a rising tide is all you need to find them.
Next month sees the start of the real transition to winte, which sees everyone getting a little toey for the mackerel to arrive. Typically we see a big run of large greys and smaller school-sized Spanish mackerel in May around the outer islands and outer mackerel patches. If you are thinking about coming up for a fish feel free to drop me an email or see the people down at Bowen Outdoors for some ideas as to where to get started on your Bowen fishing adventure.Reads: 776