I hope you all had a great Easter with plenty of chocolates and big fish. April was kind to us anglers, with great weather, several metre-plus mulloway, some great kingfish and an abundance of flathead and bream scattered throughout the estuaries.
This month we see new changes come into effect for the management of Australian bass and estuary perch, with no take or possession from May 1 to August 31. This, I presume, is to protect any early run fish that come down with a decent fresh in mid-autumn.
Despite the closed season, there will be some great perch and bass encountered this month as bycatch. Those flicking lures along the rock walls from lower Portland to Wisemans Ferry looking for bream will no doubt cross paths with a few.
Some great breaming can be had from Slippery Rock downstream to the heads. Previously, this month has yielded many kilo-plus fish and this his season should be no different. Cockle beds, rock walls and deeper broken reef are all prime locations. Baits and lures will both take fish in these areas. If bait fishing, getting a berley trail established should be paramount, followed by presenting lightly weighted baits of nippers, prawns and whitebait. Keep leaders under the 5kg mark and preferably fluorocarbon.
Casting soft plastic grubs, creature baits and vibes in similar areas will allow you to take your presentation to the fish and also cover ground to find the active patches. Most bream will hold between 3-6m during daylight hours, so make sure you are getting that lure into the zone. Light leaders of around 4kg will be ample to get the bites and extract them from nasty cover if necessary.
Mulloway will be high on my list of fish to target as the water temperatures drop down around 20 degrees. Big live baits of yellowtail, tailor and pike are favourites. Getting enough baits in time for the always-crucial tide change and keeping them alive is paramount. A big flow through tank with the capacity to hold 6-10 livies up to 50cm in length is a handy asset when chasing mulloway over the metre mark. Twin and single hook rigs on 20-40kg gear will stop most fish. Just use enough lead to keep baits on the bottom in the prevailing conditions.
Yellowtail can be brought to the boat with a bread berley and then caught on small baited long shank hooks or a Sabiki bait jig. Tailor and pike require a little extra effort to find, with casting and/or trolling the washes best.
Lure casting around the tide changes will also account for some quality fish as we near winter. Most are school fish in the sub metre class, but there seems to be more metre-plus fish showing up each season.
The kingfish are still inshore and there are some monsters amongst them. Garfish are the favourite live bait, followed closely by the much easier to obtain yellowtail. Downrigged, flat-lined or just drifted with a couple set at different depths will put you in contention.
Salmon and tailor can beat the kings to your baits at times, so make sure you catch enough to last a great session. You can always put back what you don't use at the end of the day.
If you're after that monster inshore king, make sure you go 'loaded for bear', as there is no telling when that fish of a lifetime decides your bait is also his!Reads: 747