April sees the water cool a little from the hot summer temperatures and this brings different fish onto anglers’ radars.
Most of the billfish action is on the wider grounds, with blue marlin the main attraction. A lot of the Gold Coast gamefish fleet will be working the Tweed Canyons, Jims Mountain and the Riv Grounds in April. Blues are erratic fish and there can be a lot of water between them. Early season results have been promising, most boats averaging around 1-2 strikes a day in February. That doesn’t sound too good, but the fish have been averaging 140kg. The bites out wide should increase by late autumn.
April is the prime time for wahoo, and this season’s already fired up with fish showing as early as last November. We’ve already caught 16 wahoo so far this season without a single bite off on mono traces. Most of these have been small fish between 6-10kg. All have been caught whilst targeting marlin.
The mackerel fishing so far this season has been very slow. This was probably due to early season northerlies and an initial lack of bait on the inshore grounds. Hopefully, the spotties and Spaniards will be back in big numbers. The inshore reefs at Palm Beach and Mermaid are worth a look, as is the area east of Couran Cove and off the Jumpinpin Bar. Trolling high-speed small-skirted lures on wire traces works well – try spinning with metal lures with a bit of berley.
As the current drops off the fishing will improve on the wider grounds. Snapper numbers should increase towards the end of April, try jigging on the 50 fathom line. 36 fathom line, Deep Trag and 42 fathom reef can all fish well for squire and trag in April.
There should also be plenty of activity on the drop-off just east of the Seaway in April. In late February large schools of frog mouthed pilchards were attracting large numbers of sharks, and I’m sure the mackerel and tuna weren’t far away. The drop-off from 6-15m north of the Seaway is a great place to target mackerel on a big run-in tide. Drifted live slimies can catch anything from a Spaniard to a marlin in this area. It’s a great spot and most anglers’ drive right over it. Just be careful to avoid the bank in heavy swell.
Slowly trolled live tuna are also very effective in this area. A small mac tuna, bonito or frigate slowly towed along the drop-off is a great way to catch a big Spaniard. Sharks are also keen on these bigger baits. The same method is deadly on wider grounds or at the Tweed Nine Mile for wahoo.
As the water cools the fishing in the Seaway area should improve. The end of the north wall of the Seaway will produce tailor, some trevally, tarpon, big bream and mulloway throughout April. Smaller tides, like the last two hours of the run-in, are generally the best times to fish. Live slimies, herring and mullet are very effective baits. Soft plastics such as Berkley Gulp Minnows work very well in deep holes and along the south wall. Casting pilchards on ganged hooks is another good method, especially when there is a bit of wash around.
Whiting are very active in the Nerang throughout April. Plenty of big 500g+ specimens will be around, and shrimp, small soldier crabs and squirt or bloodworms will be the best baits. Fish the early weekday mornings well up the Nerang as there is a lot less boat traffic. Other areas to target are the Pimpama River, the Gold Bank at Crusoe Island and the entrance of the Lagoons at Jumpinpin.
Flathead become a lot more active as the water cools a little, and April is quite a good month to chase lizards in the central Broadwater. The section from Crab Island to Tipplers should fish well if the water is nice and clean. Fish the low tide, at about 7am, and work the flats and feeder channels on the first of the run-in tide. There are numerous soft plastics on the market, but Squidgie Fish and Berkley Mullet and Gulp Pogies all work well. Use a 1/4 or a 3/8oz jighead. In April flathead should be between 40-60cm, with a few bigger ones caught around the entrances of Jumpinpin and the Seaway.
Mangrove jacks will quieten down a bit in April in the rivers, but a lot are caught around the Seaway Walls on livebaits. As jacks move out onto the outer reefs once they reach around 60cm in length. It’s a pity the 10kg ones don’t stay in the rivers! The rockwalls within 1-2km of the Seaway are still worth throwing a few poppers around for the odd jack and trevally, and soft plastics fished in the same area can also be effective.
Overall, April is a productive fishing month off the Gold Coast, with plenty of options in both the estuaries and open oceans. I predict this April will have a bumper crop of big spotted mackerel, and one of the best spots will be just east of the Jumpinpin Bar. I also think we could be due for a big run of school jew in the Seaway if there are heavy rains in mid-March. Mud and sandcrabs are also worth a look in April.Reads: 2023