April is the month when I start to get excited about my rock fishing again! Lots of options start opening up as we get closer to the colder months.
The main reason I get excited about fishing in April is because it marks the start of the land-based game (LBG) season in Iluka. Without the rain and flooding that plagued us over the last 4 or 5 seasons, hopefully this season will be a good one – although as soon as there is a whisper of a longtail getting caught off Iluka wall it is packed the next day.
The deep water fronted headlands to the north and south of the mighty Clarence River also produce fish, so a little exploring and adventurous spirit could see you catching fish all by yourself without the crowd – that’s if you are willing to put in the work. Long, fishless days have been the norm for last couple of LBG seasons but hopefully the change in weather patterns will see us return to the action-packed days of seasons past.
The best baits for our region are by far live gar, which you can catch by berleying up using bread and tuna oil, then using a sabiki rig. The hooks I like to use for chasing longtail tuna are 5/0 Mustads along with a couple of meters of quality 50lb leader and 30lb main line. This set-up and a lot of hours on the rocks should hopefully see you hook up to a LBG tuna this season.
All these fish will also be available to the boat going anglers as well; often April and May are when those better quality pelagics are getting around. To get among these better sized fish your best option is to tow around a live or a well rigged dead bait. Because these quality fish are around at this time in the season I like to upgrade everything in my rigs. Use the best quality you can buy, double check all knots, and take the time to check rigs again after a hook-up – don't just bait up and put them back in the water straight away. It is all these little things that will help you to land a quality fish and get those brag photos that will make all your mates jealous.
This time of year is getting close to the mullet run as well, so it’s time to dust off the live bait and mulloway lure sticks and start rigging up for another season of chasing these majestic silver fish on the mighty Clarence River. If you have never landed a good sized mulloway and would like to tick it off your bucket list, the next 2 months is when you should be putting a lot of effort. If you’re lucky enough to be there when a school of mullet swims by, you never know – your mulloway fishing dreams might all come true at once!
On the tailor fishing front the last couple of seasons have not been anything special. Hopefully this season with the different weather pattern we might get the quantity and quality of fish that we’ve seen in seasons past.
This weather has also had an effect upstream where the Clarence starts in the valley, leaving many of our local cod haunts with not much of a trickle in them at the time of writing this, but this has not had an effect on local lure maker Steve Patti's strike rate. Lately he has been picking up some horse size cod on his surface lure Black Betty.Reads: 1987