All about mixed bags
  |  First Published: April 2005

April is all about mixed bags of quality fish and this is an exceptional time to be out there.

Bream fishing from the last week in March through to the middle of April can be some of the hottest action you can have around here. Spawning bream leave the estuaries and run along the beaches, usually in a feeding frenzy for the first part of it to give themselves energy for their long journey.

A lot of anglers know this and Stockton Beach, Redhead Beach and Blacksmiths Beach are alive with people hoping that the run of bream from Newcastle Harbour and Lake Macquarie will be a great one. As you can see, there are spots where the bream fresh from the estuaries run the first length of beach.

Over Autumn and early Winter the fish leave the estuary and feed like vacuum cleaners in the sand. Pipis, sand worms, sand or ghost crabs or pumped nippers are all great baits, as are the freshest prawns you can find.

Some of the biggest bream are caught through this month. The larger fish seem to take off first, leaving the smaller stragglers.

A look back in my diary suggests that headlands and the first stretches of beaches near estuary mouths on moonless nights definitely fish the best. Add a rising tide and a good gutter and all the main ingredients should be in place for some spectacular fishing.

April is also when offshore fishing can be great but be aware that on this part of the coast a screaming current pushing back up north will usually operate and even a house brick can’t keep your bait over offshore reefs in the strike zones. Get feedback from tackle shops of mates who are out there a bit or by finding out from others at boat ramps.

Although closer reefs aren’t as prone to current, wider marks do at times become unfishable for bottom-bashers and most resort to trolling or jigging when schools of fish are located on the sounder.


Blue swimmer crabs are usually a good target this month and Lake Macquarie has turned up great numbers over the past six weeks. There’s a whisper they are in the Hunter as well.

The crabs move around a lot and seeming to travel widely in April. Remember the rules and get a Fisheries booklet. Over recent months even experienced fishos have told me they thought they were able to have five of the fully netted collapsible traps – you are allowed only one of the box-type traps and five dilly pots or witch’s hats that are open at the top per person and no traps at all in Lake Macquarie.

The mix of fish we get now is also a major drawcard for the rockhoppers – bream, the first signs of drummer, tailor, bonito, salmon, trevally, flathead and whiting all overlap as the seasons change.

Depending on water temps this can go on until May. Fishing the washes, sandy patches or over the kelp there will usually be something around to target.

Although we mostly write about the more lavish species, this month is a great time for berleying calm bays for groper, for catching leatherjackets over the kelp and garfish with quill floats.

Not too long back a cobia was taken on Blacksmiths Beach and while it was not a huge fish it was an unusual capture. Some huge blue swimmers have been around Belmont Bay and Swan Bay in Lake Macquarie, there have been some nice squire on the Dumping Ground off Newcastle along with a lot of tailor.

Blue swimmer crabs are in the upper estuaries but should move about this month towards the entrances.

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