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Nail a red on the stones
  |  First Published: April 2014



Haven’t fully recovered from last month? Well, there is no need to slow down just keep charging forward as this is another cracker of a fishing month! We even have the added bonus of Easter and ANZAC day long weekends only three days apart, so the opportunities are extreme.

Take a deep breath and get your second wind because the full moon will bring on the snapper and they will be right in close in the washes and around the bombies. The rock hoppers are in with their best chance all year to nail a big red from the stones.

The deeper spots down south around Kiama, Marsdens, Bombo and Cathedral rocks are all prime ledges. Take some berley and start your trail very early in the morning or late in the arvo and fish unweighted fillets of mackerel. If they are about they will find you.

The same method can be used at Bass Point, Windang Island, Port Kembla and further north at Coalcliff. If you want to get adventurous try the area between Wombarra and Stanwell Park. It is a bit of a walk and rock scramble but few fish it and it is well worth the effort.

The boaties will do well to get in close and put out the berley over any of the shallow reefs. A few of the best spots are Puckeys, only 300m from Wollongong boat ramp and right next to the CBD, and Bellambi Reef a little further north or straight off Wombarra Cemetery only a few hundred metres from shore.

Fishing the close in shallow reefs is all good but with shallow water comes the chance of breaking waves, so tide and sea conditions must be taken into account when fishing these areas. Local knowledge also is a big bonus.

Stealth is also required because the reds are very alert in the shallows and take some skill to catch, which is much different to drifting plastics in 50m of water and hoping.

With the water cooling, the rocks will also see the big drummer start to get into gear with all the above places and all the shallow headlands in between holding good fish.

If the snapper are a bit slow, and let’s face it you don’t get big ones every time, there will be plenty of drummer and bream in the berley, particularly if you use some bread. A few royal red prawns or bread fished unweighted in the trail will score some very nice fish, again the area around Coalcliff will be a standout this month.

If drummer and bream aren’t your style then there are plenty of bonito, salmon, mackerel tuna, and kingfish. There is even the chance of a longtail on the deeper ledges if you have a live bait out or toss a bit of heavy metal about and crank it back fast.

If you are lucky and find a few frigates hanging about put one straight back out and any kings in the area will hone in very quickly. If not you have the very best snapper bait available.

On the beaches we have a big full moon rising just on dark, so if the weather holds this is when the big tailor come out to play. April is always good for fish well in excess of 3kg there is just one problem, you have to get past the salmon. They are everywhere but there is nothing wrong with a bit of healthy competition. Both fish are great to catch on light tackle, but don’t go too light as there are still a few mulloway about. It hasn’t been the best season for big fish and the schoolies haven’t really schooled. Nevertheless, there have been enough to keep the die-hards interested and you just never know that next run might be the big one.

Sharks are still a problem particularly when using fillets of slimy and frigate but they usually bite you off quickly and you can get on with fishing.

During the day there are some very solid whiting getting about but beachworms are a must while flatties are still grabbing plastics and baits on the edges of the deeper gutters. A few nice bream are in the deeper gutters too with some of the better fish coming from the gutters running out close to the rocks of one of the many headlands.

The lake will produce for a good while yet with plenty of good flathead on the bite all up through the main channel and into the lake proper with the dirty water right at the bottom of the tide the best time to fish. You tend to struggle to get a hit when the water is clear but it is nice to see the water so clean in the lake.

Bream are gaining in numbers in the deeper spots in the channel with the evenings on the run-out tide the best times to try. If you can get some weed there are heaps of good blackfish along the edges of the weed beds but squirt worms will get a lot of fish if you can get the worms.

Some big whiting are hanging over the shallow sand flats where the water warms during the day but squirt worms are virtually a must for a descent catch.

Minnamurra has a few flatties but they have gone a bit quiet of late but plenty of decent bream and blackfish are gathering around the bridge pylons to make up for the flatties. Some nice whiting and the odd big trevally can be found on the flats down around the entrance.

Offshore, apart from the snapper, the other feature of April is the gathering of big bonito off the coast as fish to 7kg prowl the reefs before moving to greener pastures. They love big live baits meant for kings and will gather in numbers if you toss a few pilchard cubes into the berley when chasing snapper. They are great fun on light tackle and aren’t too bad fresh on the barbie either.

Kings are gaining in size as the rats start to all get to legal-size after fattening up over the past few weeks. Some big fish will be hooked but they are hunting the shallower areas at the moment with Bass Point and the islands the top spots. However, shallow water and big kings don’t mix so most will beat you up and take your tackle.

Big live slimy mackerel slow trolled on the top or downrigged are the killer baits or if you are lucky enough to score a late frigate you are in business.

If you use small slimies or yellowtail you will get kings, many of them smaller, but you will also get plenty of salmon knocking off your baits as well so the chance of kingies will be severely depleted.

Further offshore there is the chance of a few yellowfin tuna showing up out wide but as of yet it has been a bit quiet on that front but it can all change at any time so keep an ear out for any mentions.

Big blue marlin are a good bet past the shelf with a few striped marlin taking lures now the blacks have moved on. But there is always a chance of a black as we have caught them right into June in the past. If there is a late push of more warm water there could be a few more mahi mahi on the FADs, but for the moment there are only the odd stragglers hanging about on some days.

In closer the drifters are getting some nice flathead over the sand patches with many of the old timers lamenting the loss of the Port Chimney Stack. It was the main mark used for spots for most anglers who chased flatties and just didn’t get the marks into their GPS before it all came tumbling down.

Over the reefs the small reds have been consistent along with gathering numbers of trevally and the odd samsonfish, while morwies have been a bit quiet there are plenty of piggies and leatherjackets to keep you busy.

Good fishing.

1

There are some nice reds like this around if you berley the shallows. This one was another accident that took a livie meant for a king.

2

This is the month for the big bonnies and you just don’t know where they will turn up, but a good bet would be around the islands.

3

There are plenty of school bream moving on the beaches this month.

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