So far there have been plenty of wahoo but very few Spaniards or spotties for those anglers targeting mackerel off the Gold Coast. There weren’t many mackerel off Mermaid and Palm beaches in late February, but hopefully that will change soon. Spotted mackerel have been very erratic, with a few early schools appearing and disappearing. On a brighter note, it has been the best wahoo season in many years, and the fish have got bigger as the season has progressed.
April is usually the best month for big wahoo and Spaniards, and high speed trolling should be worth a try in the Tweed Nine Mile Reef, along the 24-fathom line and over the gravel patch east of Burleigh Heads. Live baiting is also worth a shot.
Blue and striped marlin should be around on the wider grounds beyond the 50-fathom line. This year quite a few blue marlin have been caught in depths as shallow as 70 fathoms, which puts them within the reach of trailer boats. Stand up 24kg and 37kg tackle is the best way to fish from a boat without a game chair, but bigger fish are very hard to pull up from the depths on anything less than 37kg. Lure trolling with medium to large Meridians, Pakulas and other pusher-style lures will work well. A few yellowfin and wahoo will also appear on the wider grounds this month.
The current usually slows down a bit and the water temperature will drop a little in April. When the current slows, fishing the 50-fathom reef should produce a few kingies, pearl perch, samsonfish and snapper. Jigging early in the season can be very productive at times.
On the inshore grounds, anchoring up and berleying with tuna can produce everything from cobia to big snapper. If you can catch a few livies, float one out the back on wire, and fish another mid-water with a floating pilchard while you berley. This approach often works if you have a few tuna to put through the berley pot. Getting the live baits has been the most difficult part of the business this year. The normally prolific schools of slimy mackerel have been almost absent this season.
An early morning troll with a mixed spread of minnows and skirted lures can produce marlin, mackerel, wahoo and mackerel tuna. Work the 18- and 24-fathom reef complexes east of Surfers Paradise and try to stay in the blue current. Halco Laser Pros have caught a stack of small black marlin this season and are a great lure for a wide range of species.
As the water cools a little the fish should get bigger. Hopefully we will see a return run of spotted mackerel hit Palm Beach in late April.
The water will start to cool and most of the summer species will slow down a little. Bream should pick up through the month. Whiting are generally at their peak and the flathead become more active.
As the water temperature drops, a lot of mangrove jacks begin to move into the Seaway area and many are caught on live baits this month, particularly at the end of the north wall. A few school jewies turn up in the same places. Deep fished soft plastics or small live baits in the Seaway area are an excellent option this month, especially if there is a run-in tide early in the morning. Yakkas, slimies, herrings and mullet are all effective live baits.
In early March prawns started to appear in the Pimpama and Logan rivers, and the annual banana prawn run should be in full swing by April. A cast net and a sounder are all that is required. If you launch at Jacobs Well, look for the crowds of boats throwing nets and you’ll soon find the area to catch a feed. The powerlines on the western side of Russel Island are a good place to start looking.
Flathead improve this month and most of the fish will be around the central Broadwater. While it is by no means a great month for lizards, it usually isn’t too hard to get a feed around Tipplers Passage by casting small soft plastics. Some 3-inch Berkley Gulp Pogies are a worthwhile inclusion in any tackle box.
Mud crabs and sandies should be in good numbers this month. With a very dry year it has been tough going on the crabbing front, but there are plenty around after any worthwhile rain. The sand crabs have been at their best on the mid run-in tide early in the morning near the weed beds in the main sections of the channels around Crab Island.
Bream start to move around a bit as the water cools, and both lure casting and bait fishing can be very good at times. A lot of anglers are doing well on bream on surface lures, which is a fun way to catch these fish.
Overall April should be a very good month to catch a few fish around the Gold Coast. This year has been very difficult to predict: yesterday a mate of mine caught a chinaman fish on a hard body while fishing for jacks, and all sorts of other unusual fish seem to turn up quite regularly. On the offshore grounds I can’t remember a season with less bait, but despite this the fishing has been quite good.Reads: 1223