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April action aplenty
  |  First Published: April 2014



Fishing during April is generally good with a broad mix of demersal, pelagic and crustaceans on offer. However, with seasons not being regular over recent years, it is often hard to predict what the angling action will be like. Still, for anglers this just keeps things interesting, with out of season species often showing up en masse when they would usually be hard to find.

In April we often see the weather start to cool down somewhat. It creates a pleasant environment for those heading out on sunny days, although early morning starts may already require a good coffee and some warm clothes to get you motivated. All in all, with lots of options in Southern Queensland waters during April, anglers will be spoilt for choice.

Over the past few years there have been numerous factors that have affected the fishing throughout Southern Queensland. The two major floods over the last four years have definitely been a positive for our waters long term.

Firstly, the greatly increased nutrient levels in most systems have resulted in an increase in baitfish and crustacean activity. As a result, many predators have flourished, often turning up in numbers not seen for over 20 years. For example, the summer run of Spanish mackerel has been awesome with huge numbers available right along the coastline. You could often get your bag limit of three fish within half an hour, and although the size wasn’t spectacular (many Spanish were less than a metre long), what they lacked in size they made up for in numbers.

Mahi mahi were also more plentiful than usual, and there were also good numbers of yellowfin tuna, billfish, threadfin salmon and numerous others. The school mackerel were fairly consistent throughout Moreton Bay although spotted mackerel were a bit light on. The spotties seemed to have bypassed the bay and good schools were located along the front of Moreton Island and Stradbroke Islands and off the Gold Coast at the Seaway One Mile, Mermaid Reef, Palm Beach Reef and numerous other locations.

The bay has had good numbers of quality snapper on offer right throughout summer as well as mulloway, yellowtail kingfish and longtail tuna. However, species such as sweetlip, mack tuna, bonito and tuskfish have been a little harder to find. The prevalence of some fish species has been all over the place but thinking anglers have generally had little difficulty getting into some action if they are not piscatorial racists.

PRAWNS

These tasty crustaceans have been available in good numbers in recent months with the Caboolture River, Pine River, Brisbane River, Logan River and many other systems producing the goods. Many prawners have had no trouble acquiring a 10L bucket limit within a few hours. With quality Australian caught prawns regularly in excess of $20 per kilo, a few hours of effort is a reward for both the palate and the pocket.

Most spots prawn best around the change of the tide when they settle down to the bottom to feed on the silt and debris. Deep holes and the lower side of ledges are good places to concentrate your efforts during these times. Make sure to allow your cast net to sink all the way to the bottom and then shake it as you slowly retrieve it to get the net leads shuffling across the bottom and scaring the prawns out of the silt and up into the net. Larger nets, such as a maximum 12ft spread, will cover a greater area and will stay open longer as they sink, which is especially important when working deeper waters.

During the faster stages of the tide, either falling or rising, prawns can still be found in the same areas as well as more open sections of water as they transit up or down with the current. A quality side imaging sounder can be a great tool for locating these prawn schools.

Most creek and river systems will produce and you don’t need a boat to get amongst the action. Some noted land-based prawning locations include the Colmslie Jetty and Newstead Jetty on the Brisbane River, Boat Passage Pontoon, Deepwater Bend on the Pine River, Woody Point Jetty, Wellington Point Jetty and various bridges and pontoons. For those fishing and prawning from these man-made structures, take the time to throw a few buckets of water over them to clean off the mud and debris after you finish. If they are constantly left in a bad state then it gives councils good reason to close them to fishers. It only takes a few minutes and is also a courtesy to others who use these facilities.

BRISBANE RIVER

With the influx of prawns into the estuarine and river systems, the fishing action in these zones has been excellent. The Brisbane River has fished well for king threadfin salmon and a few mulloway over the last few months and this should continue throughout April. The threadfin have been caught in good numbers and to some fairly impressive sizes at various locations from the Gateway Bridge to the river mouth, and have also been fairly prevalent further up the river at times. Remember to handle these fish with care and don’t remove them from the water if you want to heighten their chances of survival. Threadfin salmon numbers have been good in recent years and they’re showing up with more regularity in other systems such as the Pumicestone Passage, Logan River, Caboolture River and occasionally on the flats out the front of Wynnum.

There have also been plenty of other options throughout the river with estuary cod, snapper, flathead, mulloway, bream and numerous other targets available. These have been taken mainly in the lower reaches on soft plastics, vibes and a selection of baits, both dead and live. Popular areas include the Sunken Wall, Clara’s Rocks, the retaining walls at the mouth and adjacent to any jetties or other prominent structures.

BAY OPTIONS

The snapper fishing within Moreton Bay over the last few months has been excellent. Although the numbers of fish is nothing to get excited about, the quality has more than made up for it. Snapper exceeding 50cm fork length have been fairly common captures on most trips and plenty of times we have caught fish well exceeding 70cm and occasionally over 80cm.

Most areas have been fishing well with good results coming from around the bay islands and the artificial reefs. Peel Island has been a little hit and miss for some anglers, but exceptional specimens to over 90cm have been caught there. The Peel Artificial has been getting hit fairly hard and in addition to snapper, anglers have accounted for yellowtail kingfish, grass sweetlip, morwong, school mackerel and several other species. A few longtails have also been cruising around this area at times, especially early in the morning.

The kayakers have been getting a few snapper around the ledges and rubble out the front of Wellington Point on the early morning rising tides. Bream, flathead, sweetlip and a few school mackerel have also been taken, mainly on soft plastics. Those fishing baits have encountered plenty of small whaler sharks.

Mud Island has been steady for snapper and a few sweetlip and tuskfish. The northern and eastern sides have been the most heavily fished but personally I get decent results on the western side also. Soft plastics fished whilst drifting through these areas has been successful for many anglers. A broad array will work when fished correctly, with many anglers opting for Gulp 5” jerkshads and Zman MinnowZ.

Quality baits fished with a minimum of lead also produce decent captures of snapper and other species. Drifting out a pilchard with no weight, or suspended under a balloon, will often entice a better class of snapper or perhaps a school of spotted mackerel.

One thing to keep in mind when fishing shallower areas such as the Mud Island margins is stealth. Anglers who choose spots away from the crowd and who expect to wait a good 30 minutes or so after anchoring before they expect results will be the anglers most likely to be the envy of others at the boat ramp. Anchor well upcurrent from your chosen spot and then let out your anchor rope until you are within casting distance of your fishing zone and you will be rewarded for your efforts and patience.

Green Island can also fish well for snapper during April. Personally I find Green a little hot and cold, but I have never put in any serious time there to get an intimate knowledge of its workings.

April is considered to be a good month for sweetlip around Green. Grassies make up the bulk of the catch and knowledgeable anglers who go to the effort of getting up early and fishing quality baits will achieve the best success. You need to be on the water and anchored up at least an hour before sunrise. Good baits include large, fresh green prawns, fresh fillet baits (garfish, pike, mullet, slimy mackerel and the like), whole diver whiting, fresh squid and cuttlefish. Fish these as lightly weighted as possible along the ledges on the eastern and south-eastern sides and you should meet with success. Generally the action is all over within an hour after dawn but hopefully you will return home with some tasty sweetlip or snapper fillets.

The Harry Atkinson has been a fairly consistent producer for many anglers with some quality snapper to be taken as well as mulloway, school mackerel, spotted mackerel, cod and numerous others. This is one area that can shut down quickly when the boat traffic increases. I generally find that if I can get out early mid-week then we usually do well. Whilst there are a few key areas that are a little more reliable than others, the snapper in particular can be caught over a wide area as they commonly roam.

When fishing plastics you can heighten results by finding baitfish activity and then fishing around it. Snapper, mulloway and other species can be caught on a wide array of plastics, vibes, blades and baits. I have been doing fairly well on the River2Sea Fish Candy paddle-tail vibes. Like soft plastics these are cast well away from the boat, generally upcurrent, and then worked back with a series of hops and slow rolls. Often they are eaten on the drop, with quality snapper striking within a second or two of the offering hitting the water. This just goes to show that these fish are often hunting high in the water column. Fishing your baits lightly weighted will allow them to waft down slower and more naturally as you cover all of the water column.

Finally, remember to keep an eye out for baitfish and bird activity within the general area, as schools of pelagics can erupt at any time.

CRABS

The last few months have been good for crabbing and it will still be worth the effort during April, although the action often slows as the water temperature falls. Both sand and mud crabs have been fairly prevalent for those setting safety pots. Reports of quality muddies have come from well up the Brisbane River, way past the city reaches, as well as all the usual creek and river systems which filter into Moreton Bay. Often those working from kayaks and small tinnies will be able to access the tighter and least accessible areas which often produce the larger muddies.

Crabbing around the mouths of major creek and river systems and out into Moreton Bay will generally see you with a feed of sandies (blue swimmer crabs). These will be attracted by the same baits as the muddies, with fish frames, whole mullet and chicken carcasses being some of the more popular enticements. Whilst the crabbing apparatus and regulations relating to these are the same when chasing sand and mud crabs, they each possess different size and bag limits so make yourself aware of these before heading out.

SQUID

Squid catches have been fairly good throughout the warmer months with numerous positive reports of good captures coming from Moreton Bay waters. This will only get better as numbers rise during April.

The weed beds along the western side of Moreton Island and south of Dunwich, Goat Island, Bird Island, The Bluehole, Browns Gutter and bay island shallows are a few areas that have been worth working over with egi. These prawn-profiled squid lures are best worked with a slow wind or a series of hops (very aggressive hops with whips of the rod tip when fishing deeper areas) to entice tiger, arrow and bottle squid.

Egi come in a broad array of sizes, colours and bases and most of the time squid will accept most jigs put in front of them. However, when the squid are being picky you may need to try numerous ones before you can get a take, therefore it pays to have a few different ones at your disposal.

Baiting a squid skewer with a pilchard and then drifting it under a float when fishing around the bay islands will often reward you with a few tasty squid. When the float is dragged down, wind slowly to maintain constant pressure to keep the jag hooks set. A light drag setting will also help stop the hooks tearing out of the squid as it lunges.

PELAGICS

A broad array of pelagic species can be located throughout Moreton Bay during April, with longtail tuna being one of the real prizes. Numbers of these have been good in recent months and hopefully this action will increase during April as the larger schools migrate south along the coast. In addition, mack tuna, bonito, school mackerel and perhaps the occasional Spanish mackerel, yellowtail kingfish and cobia will also be caught within the bay. These are commonly located around structure that holds bait such as the beacons, artificial reefs, wrecks and ledges. At times, tuna, bonito and mackerel can be located feeding on baitfish in open waters so it pays to have a high-speed spin rod rigged with a chrome slug, jerkshad plastic or small stickbait when you are transiting or fishing within the bay.

CONCLUSION

These are just a few of the possibilities during April. In addition to the Moreton Bay action there will be a host of species to be taken throughout the creeks, rivers and estuaries including bream, flathead, estuary cod, threadfin salmon, mangrove jack, mulloway, trevally, tarpon and numerous others. Heading to the upper freshwater reaches of major creek and river systems or one of Southern Queensland’s awesome impoundments will allow you to target species such as bass, golden perch and saratoga.

All in all, there’s a lot on offer for keen anglers and we are spoilt for choice in Southern Queensland at present with numerous opportunities for those fishing within the bay, bluewater, estuaries and freshwater. Get out and enjoy the outdoors and fishing action before the winter chill sets in!

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