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An Easter fishing fiesta
  |  First Published: April 2017



As the weather begins to cool over the coming month, we will start to see in a gradual increase in the prominence and distribution of many species. Many of the usual summer fare will still be around but won’t be as easy to locate as when the water temperatures were higher.

We will see a few new species begin to be caught. April can be an exciting month for those venturing out and offers the chance for some quality time with the family on the water over Easter. Cooler conditions increase angler comfort and it is still warm enough to let the kids have a dip in the middle of the day. With the sun rising a little later you don’t have to be up in the middle of the night just to be on the water before dawn for that early morning bite.

LONGTAILS

Longtail tuna are often around in increased numbers during April. We have seen a decent amount of these throughout the summer months, including larger specimens in excess of 12kg. April commonly sees schools of the smaller specimens of 8kg or more too. Surface busting schools can be sighted from a considerable distance away thanks to the efforts of birds in attendance and the surface disturbance. Even the feeding efforts of individual fish will be obvious to the keen eye due to a single bird following overhead, a V-shaped wake or the occasional broken waters as they slurp down baitfish. These individual fish are usually larger specimens that will eat a wide array of baitfish profiles. Pencil poppers, stickbaits, jerkshad plastics, baitfish profile flies, chromed slugs and numerous other offerings can be used.

Two new lures I have used recently that are worth checking out are the Nomad Riptide 125 sinking stickbait and the Dartwing 165 pencil popper. Apart from the fact that both of these are longtail lollies, they are rigged ready to fish with quality hardware straight from the packet. The Madscad 115 is another favourite I have been using successfully on longtails for some time now, especially in the HGS and SAR colours.

In addition to these I have been throwing an array of other lures such as the Maria Mucho Lucir 35g, Ocea Pencil, Duel Adagio, Storm So-Run Minnows, Saltiga Over-There and a few others. Natural finishes and pinks seem to do the job on longtails and are my comfort colours, however I am sure anglers have scored results on a broad array of finishes at times.

Good places to search for longies at this time of the year include along the shore-break of Bribie and out a few kays, the NW Channel, NE Channel, Pearl Channel, Rainbow Channel, Middle Bank area, between the Measured Mile and Mud Island, Lucinda Bay, the Paddock (be aware of the Green Zone), Rous Channel and Peel Island surrounds. As they can pop up at any time it pays to have a rod rigged and ready to cast no matter where you are fishing in Moreton Bay. The areas around the prominent shipping channel beacons are also worth attention.

Although the occasional fish can be caught on lures jigged or worked around these structures, live baits are a better option. Yakkas, slimey mackerel, pike, cowanyoung and most others caught using bait jigs around these vertical structures can used successfully. I generally pin these baits with a twin snelled hook rig (mainly utilising circle hooks) and put one bait under a balloon and another down deeper. In addition to longtails, these baits can attract cobia, large mac tuna, mackerel and the occasional yellowtail kingfish or snapper.

OTHER BAY PELAGICS

In addition to longtail tuna, anglers can still expect to locate and catch mac tuna, frigate tuna, spotted mackerel and school mackerel as well as Australian and Watson’s bonito. Surface feeding schools of mackerel may be located however with decreased numbers of these species as the water temperatures drop, it is more likely that you will need to troll lures or float out pilchards and small live baits to achieve results. The artificial reefs (Peel, Harry Atkinson, Curtin, Scarborough and Turner) are all likely to hold a few school and spotted mackerel. The outer margins of the bay islands and edges of major channels are also likely to produce numerous pelagics, especially on the higher stages of the tide.

Drifting out a pilchard while targeting snapper and other demersals could add a few bonus fish to the esky. The beacons are also likely to attract a few mackerel. Drifting down a pilchard or small live bait, such as a yakka or slimey mackerel, could produce school mackerel or the occasional spotty. This time last year there were even a few Spanish mackerel taken throughout Moreton Bay, mostly around the artificial reefs by anglers deploying live baits.

Trolling lures along the edges of major channels around the start of the falling tide and near mid-tide on the rising tide will often produce mackerel and bonito. Some of the deeper bank systems, like those between the Four Beacons and mainland are worth trolling during the higher stages of the tide. Deep diving lures (3-5m) to around 130mm in length will do the trick. Ones that can troll in excess of 6 knots (they will generally have long, yet fairly narrow bibs) in metallic or natural finishes are likely to produce. I commonly use Duel Hardcore 90, Arashi Rattling Minnow Deep, Rapala X-Rap Mag 10, Rapala MaxRap Minnow and Bomber 24A just to name a few. Getting your line as flat to the water as you can will provide you with the ability to troll a bit faster. I like to use 10-15lb braid with a 20lb fluorocarbon leader as this allows the lures to get deeper, troll faster and provide a lot more fun than when using heavier gear. As most strikes happen at the rear of the lure (mackerel commonly nip of the tail of fast moving prey to immobilise it), you won’t require a wire leader. In fact, wire will deter strikes.

SNAPPER AND SWEETLIP

As the water temperatures drop, the abundance of both snapper and sweetlip will become noticeable. All the usual areas, such as the bay island surrounds, artificial reefs, wrecks and around the bases of the beacons are likely to produce. Many anglers like to anchor and deploy both dead and live baits in their quest. This can be productive and a great way to fish if you like a ‘kick back and relax’ approach.

A more active discipline is casting lures and working micro-jigs. Cast and retrieve offerings such as jighead rigged soft plastics (paddle-tails, jerk shads and curl-tails) and soft vibes are both popular and productive. Long casts up current and slow rolls or subtle hops of the lure will generally produce the goods, especially if you are stealthy in your approach and don’t continually drive over the ground you want to fish. In deeper areas, such as the Curtin, Harry Atkinson and Peel Artificial reefs, micro jigs can work well and allow you to put your offering right in front of the fish sounding on your electronics. The micro jigs can even be cast out and worked back vertically with satisfying results.

If you specifically want to target sweetlip, presenting quality fresh baits around the outer edges of the reef and rubble grounds surrounding the bay islands is likely to produce. Early mornings and evenings generally offer the best opportunity due to lower light and decreased boat traffic. Fillet baits from gar, mullet, pike, slimy mackerel, herring and the like as well as fresh green prawns will work well. Some anglers even use fresh, raw chicken fillets with great success. Keeping your baits lightly weighted will increase your chances, especially with those larger, morewary specimens.

CRABS

Even though it is starting to get cooler, crabs will still be a serious proposition over the coming month. Sand, blue swimmer and mud crabs will be caught in safety pots baited with chicken carcasses, fish frames, whole mullet and other baits. Setting pots around the mouths of rivers and estuaries will likely reward you with one or all species however as you venture further into the bay then it is the blue swimmer and sand crabs which will account for most of the pot’s desirable contents. Setting pots along the edges of banks and contours, the mouth of small channels and drains leading off the sand flats and in deeper holes is likely to reward. For muddies, try further up the creek and estuaries, especially against collapsed mangrove banks, the mouths of drains and gutters leading out of the mangrove expanse and in deeper holes. The hard to reach spots deep in the mangrove wetlands will often produce some of the best quality muddies.

PRAWNS

This year’s prawning season has been excellent with most anglers being able to fill their 10L limit (which is generally around 6.5kg of prawns) with a few hours of effort on the water. Around the changes of the tide seems to be the best bet in most areas. Good spots to try have included the Pine and Caboolture Rivers, the deeper holes around Macleay, Russel and Lamb islands, the Salt Works near Karragarra Island and the main channel out the front of Jumpinpin. The quality has mostly been excellent and in addition to banana prawns there have also been quite a few black tigers taken. Most prawners have been using maximum length (12ft) top pocket only cast nets. The majority of these are locally made and although generally well in excess of $300 they do produce the goods. Standard top and bottom style nets will also do the job but it may take you a little more effort to fill your bucket. Jarvis Walker recently brought out a good top pocket only net which is now available in tackle stores and retails around the $200 mark. It’s one to check out if you are in the market for a new prawning net.

Prawns will generally show up as a coloured haze (blue on my Lowrance) close to the bottom on your sounder. Sometimes this may extend well up off the bottom if it is a large, condensed school of prawns. Casting your net in the right area whilst taking into consideration the currents effect on the net before it reaches the bottom is vital if you are going to get it over the sounded prawns. This can take a bit of practice, and will make a big difference to your catch when the prawns are scattered. As they say, practice makes perfect, so get out and give it a go. Your taste buds will thank you.

BRISBANE RIVER

As the water temperatures begin to fall, anglers will notice a change in the dispersion of species throughout the Brisbane River. Threadfin will begin to move a bit further up the system, lured by the prawn schools and their natural instinct. Snapper numbers will increase in the lower reaches and anglers may encounter quality specimens to over 70cm at times. These are commonly taken on plastics and vibration baits presented around the submerged ledges, river basin edges and numerous structures like jetties, wharves and docks that line the banks.

Live baits of herring, mullet and banana prawns are great offerings that attract snapper, threadfin, mulloway, cod, bream, flathead and numerous other species. Casting lures around lighted areas at night is likely to produce species such as mulloway, threadfin, tailor and occasional others over the coming months. The rock walls at the river mouth, the bases of the beacons leading out of the river and the submerged structures of the wharves will hold decent estuary cod, although their ferocity to hit a lure will wane as the water temperatures drop. The cooler months can produce some pretty special fishing in the Brisbane River and it is quite amazing to think that this fishery is flanked on both sides by Queensland’s capital city.

Fishing throughout the Brisbane region will vary during April and it is one of those months where the temperature and any late summer rainfall can have a sizeable effect on the prominence of certain species. Due to the cooler weather as well as school holidays and the Easter break there will be an increased number of people on the water during the month. Whilst this can make the fishing in the shallows and heavily worked areas a little harder there will still be plenty of fish, prawns and crabs to go around.

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