It’s seasonal transition time on the South Coast, which means the weather, is absolutely beautiful and the fishing conditions just great.
Offshore, you can hop from place to place and tackle up to a dozen sporting species in a morning and still be home in time to watch the footy. Grab a few yellowtail for live bait at first light and drop them in around the islands, Bass Point or Bellambi behind the reef and you are just about guaranteed some decent kings.
Fish to 5kg are at most recognised spots but if you head out wider, there should still be a few marlin and mahi mahi about. The traps are a good spot to start looking. Slowly trolling a yellowtail or slimy mackerel is a good way to cover ground and find out traps are holding the mahi mahi. Don’t be to concerned if they are only small on one trap – larger fish could be just a couple of traps along the line.
Between traps, marlin can pick up your bait. Striped and black marlin should be about. Brian Taylor’s first was a 130kg black on 15kg, while Chris Stolk picked up a 78kg at Bandit Reef. This is also when blues to 300kg are out on the shelf, along with tiger, hammerhead, mako, blue and whaler sharks.
Yellowfin tuna also make an appearance in April and although they are not as numerous as they once were, they can be quite plentiful if the currents are right and there is a bit of bait about. Most are 15kg to 30k. April is often full of surprises, with the odd sailfish, spotted mackerel, cobia, wahoo and the spearfish.
Closer to shore, salmon and tailor can be taken at all the usual spots on ganged pilchards cast into the washes. Silver trevally appear around the bommies and reefs, with fish to 2kg on the deeper reefs. Monster bonito are usually in plagues during April but this year they have been very quiet.
Bottom bouncers will find flatties over the sand and mowies and small reds around the gravel and edges of the reefs. Sweep and slimy mackerel should still be thick over most reefs and there are kings, samson, trevally and even some trag.
Now is the time to get in close and berley for reds in the shallows on the full moon. The evenings are the best and fresh squid or mackerel are hard to beat.
The rockhoppers will have a better than usual chance at a big red, particularly north of Wollongong at places like Bellambi, Wombarra and Coalcliff. Blackfish should be travelling along most washes and deeper ledges are worth a try.
Drummer also start to appear in greater numbers in much the same places as blackfish. They like cunje or royal red prawns. On the deeper ledges like the Blowhole point, Bass Point, Honeycomb and Port Kembla breakwalls you can cast lures or live bait for kingfish, bonito, salmon, mackerel tuna and tailor or you can bait up with prawns or fish fillets for trevally and bream.
The breakwalls at Port are worth a look for jewies during the evenings. Jewies are also the target of the month on the beaches and they tend to be larger fish. Divers are reporting schools of jew but they are not being caught on the beaches.
If you don’t score on the jewies get hold of some live worms and go for the beach smorgasbord. Whiting are still taking worms, as are increasing numbers of bream, salmon, flathead, dart and even the odd trevally.
On the estuary front, get down to the lake and get as many fish as you can before it dries up. Since they stopped the flow by choking the entrance with a rock wall, the water has been dropping and it is getting critical. The appearance of For Sale signs on the ever-increasing islands of dead seagrass is the lighter side of a sad situation.
You have to spare a thought for the poor buggers like tackle shops, boat hire operators and tourist parks, who rely on the lake for trade. They are doing it tough. The dopey bureaucrats are too pig-headed to admit they made a blunder and blame the drought.
What happens when the drought breaks and the water rises so high that it starts to flood the low-lying suburbs? Then the bulldozers will be in like a shot. The lake will be full again but the seagrass beds have gone and the shallow flats that were scorched all Summer will be under water. But it will be too late and they may never recover and the entrance will close again.
The Minnamurra River is worth a throw for flathead in the main channel and under the bridges for bream, blackfish and even a few trevally.
There should be a few decent bonito, such as this 3kg light tackle scorcher caught by Brian Adamson.
Snapper this size and much larger will move right in close to the rocks over coming weeks particularly around the platforms north of Wollongong and around Bass Point.
Salmon are a prime target this month. This one was taken on one of the Black Diamond Tideline S623 rods and a small stinger lure at the islands off Port Kembla.Reads: 565