Reefs raging red
  |  First Published: April 2016

What a pitiful wet season we have had so far in North Queensland, and once again it’s sunshine and blue skies for the foreseeable future. I don’t want to sound like a broken record but we need rain and lots of it. It has been stinking hot, and even some of the battled-hardened locals have been heard complaining about the heat and humidity!

On the fishing front, there have been plenty caught, but some days have been a very hot slog with plenty of fishless hours, kilometres travelled and cast after cast without a bump. This sorts the keen anglers from the regular as when the humidity is thick and the sun beats down can be tempting to put the boat back on the trailer and head home for a cold shower and a colder beer. Let’s talk about what should be bending rods during April in the amazing Lucinda NQ.

Hinchinbrook Channel

April is normally a consistent month in terms of catch rates as the water is still warm and normally has had some kind of run-off to spark the food chain. What I like most about fishing in April is the fact that the barra and jacks seem to be super aggressive as they feed up before the water cools down which slows them down as well. This can produce insane sessions! A low tide in the afternoon with the first couple of hours of the incoming around sunset will result in one thing – boof! The barra will be swimming with their mouths open, as they’ve finished up with their breeding cycles and put on a few pounds to get through winter. If you are chasing bigger barra during April then find big mud banks or sand banks with bait and a distinct drop-off and slow roll big plastics to put you in the mix.

The Zman 6” Swimmerz are perfect for this situation as the big paddle-tail beats along nicely on a slow retrieve. Big lifts of the rod tip which hop the plastic along the bottom works well. As always, try and keep quiet and make long casts, big barra are smart fish and it doesn’t take much to switch them off feeding.

Snag bashing up the creeks is my favourite way to fish, and although you may not get many bigger fish, the numbers will make up for that. Tossing lures and plastics at the snags isn’t easy and I don’t recommend it for beginners, as it can get costly with gear loss and it’s frustrating to have to retrieve gear from inside structure. No matter your skill level, the new jigheads from TT lures are worth their weight in gold. TT Snakelockz allow you to rig plastics to almost near snag proof, which means you can really get your offering deep into structure where the fish are holding. They also make changing weights simpler as it just means changing the weight of the jig without re-rigging your plastic.

If you have someone who wants to get into snag bashing or fishing structure then I highly recommend these jigheads, they will change the way you fish and will produce better results. Lob them into the structure, let them sink for a second and slowly twitch them out – hang on, as I can guarantee you will wake fish up!

The mighty mangrove jack has been consistent for the last few months and should continue to be so for another month or so before they slow down like the barra. My preference to catch jacks is on tides with 1-2m difference, which normally keeps the water looking greener. Big tides dirty the water and although you still catch jacks I have definitely noticed better results when the water remains clearer and greener. In most cases you normally see the jack come out and smash you!

Golden snapper have been quiet for the last few months in the channel with very few captures. Anglers have found some off the ocean headlands on the rubble patches using live squid, but even those results have been patchy. Not sure if it’s a breeding cycle or the warmth of the water over summer (which was very hot), that has hindered results. Grunter captures have been quite slow as well.

Jetty, Islands and Reef

The weather has been kind and there have been some awesome windows of flat conditions with plenty of boats getting out and braving the heat. April should see similar conditions, and the onset of those persistent southerlies that plague Queensland during the cooler months hopefully won’t arrive too soon. There have been terrific captures of red emperor off the small isolated rocks on the way to the reefs. These rocks are tiny and finding them can take a lot of luck, but if you do they should produce a shot at a cracker red fish. The bigger emperor and nannygai always seem to take up residence in these areas. You might only pull one or two fish from them but they will be big.

The reefs will fish consistently and April can see awesome captures of coral trout and red throat emperor in the mid depths of 10-20m. As the water is in a transitional period, the fish will be biting madly, so hopefully putting some fresh fillets in the freezer should come easy. The odd early Spanish mackerel is always on the cards, so have a troll while searching for spots or flick out a floating pilchard while bottom bashing to get your line burning off the reel. Cobia will patrol the reef edges as well and provide loads of fun with their never give up fighting approach.

Lobbing big poppers over the reef edge is always enjoyable and watching GT, red bass and every other aggressive reef fish come swiping at your lure is heart-stopping stuff. It’s so highly addictive that I can just do that all day and not worry about dropping bait into the depths – I know I’m not the only one!

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