Angler-friendly April has fish firing
  |  First Published: April 2017

Without question, April is the best fishing month in this part of the world. Rock, beach, offshore and estuary options are all highly productive for a range of species, and weather patterns are generally quite angler-friendly.

Beach fishing is one of the highlights right now, and so far it seems to be following a similar pattern to the same period last year. Excellent numbers of average-size tailor have been very active right along Tuggerah and North Entrance, as well as other beaches over the past few weeks. Traditionally, April and May are peak tailor months here. If all goes well, tailor are probably the most reliable fish to chase from the sand in the coming weeks.

The good old pilchard and ganged hooks approach is a no-fail way of targeting beach tailor. However, salmon, bream and mulloway also take pillies, especially at this time of year when they’re around in numbers and actively feeding.

Perhaps the key here is finding good quality pilchards, which isn’t always easy. Firstly, they need to match the size of the ganged hooks you’ll be using. More often than not, size 4/0 or 5/0 hooks are the best bet for any of the abovementioned species. This means a medium size pilly is what you want.

When looking in bait freezers at shops, check to see if they’re too big or too small and also try to avoid pillies that look squashed, bent or with bits of skin or heads removed. Those are indications of poor quality pilchards that have probably been knocked around a bit. I’ve found decent pilchards at Budgewoi Marine Sports and the Co-Op near Toukley Bridge. There are also plenty of other shops on other parts of the Central Coast to consider.

Of course, if mulloway are the main aim, you may want to use squid instead of pillies. The good news is that it’s been a pretty good year for calamari squid so far and April is one of the very best months for them. It’s far better to invest in a few good quality squid jigs than waste money buying second-rate squid from bait shops. It will never be as good as our local calamari that can be caught right along the coast, wherever there is shallow reef and a bit of kelp.

Brisbane Waters and the lakes have continued to produce bream. As things start to get cooler, the bream will feed up more and fatten up for winter. While they’ll definitely still be smashing surface lures this month, I would be starting to turn my attention more to vibes and soft plastics. Once the first real cold snap hits, which it often does this month, bream will start to move out of the shallows and into slightly deeper water. In other words, the 2-3m zone.

My personal strategy at this time of year is to mix things up a bit by casting lures right up into the shallows around sunrise. If that’s not working, start to go deeper until fish are found. Generally, the cooler it is, the deeper the fish will be.

A few more luderick will be moving around places like the Entrance now, and we’ve still got flathead and whiting as well. April is also a good month for mulloway in Brisbane Water and Lake Macquarie.

Rock fishing has been going well. Tailor, bonito, bream and luderick are the more reliable species. As we move through the month it’s quite likely that tailor, salmon and frigate mackerel will increase in numbers, while bonito may start to thin out a bit. This is always variable and related to weather patterns and oceanic currents. Mostly though, we’ve got good quality 20-23°C water lapping the coast during April.

In years gone by I’ve enjoyed some of my very best bream fishing from the local rocks, especially from Wybung to Catherine Hill Bay. Sometimes it can be sheer numbers of bream or individual large fish that make for a memorable session on the rocks. In recent years some of my biggest bream along these northern rocks have fallen to quite small bread baits on size 6 hooks while chasing luderick. A big bream on light gear around the rocks can be a challenging adversary and much tougher than their estuary dwelling mates!

Of course, offshore anglers are normally very happy at this time of year, as conditions allow for comfortable and productive fishing at any time of day or night. While larger pelagic fish are still available out wide, it’s hard to go wrong by sticking to inshore spots within a kilometre or two from shore. Kingfish, bonito, tailor, snapper, bream, trevally, calamari and mulloway are all on the prowl in the shallows, particularly around sunrise or sunset.
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