THE SEASON so far has been an interesting one, and the big fresh in February should have a very positive effect on offshore fishing this month. Mackerel have returned this season after a virtual two-year absence, and quite a few wahoo are already starting to show around the Tweed Heads Nine Mile at the time of writing. Spotted mackerel have also been around in reasonable numbers and hopefully, with the banning of ring netting, this will be a trend for the future.
April is generally an excellent month to fish offshore, and the prime species are Spanish mackerel and wahoo. As the water cools slightly the fish tend to get bigger, and if the water inshore is blue oceanic current it’s an excellent time to troll for these species on the 24 Fathom Reef off Southport, the Gravel Patch off Burleigh, the Mud Hole east of the Tweed Bar, and the Nine Mile Reef off Cook Island.
For Spaniards, a big dead bait such as a bonito or tailor rigged to swim and trolled down deep is a hard method to beat, and for wahoo nothing beats a small live tuna. High speed trolling with heavy-headed skirts such as the locally-made Hex Heads is a good standby, especially off the Tweed. During last year’s wahoo season 20kg fish were average, and if this is repeated the local tackle shops will certainly reap the benefits. Few fish are as destructive as these monsters, and when you lose four lures in a single pass of a school it gets very expensive.
The current on the wider reefs starts to drop a bit after Easter and the bottom fishing for pearl perch and snapper improves. Many anglers are doing particularly well on yellowtail kings and amberjacks on the 50 Fathom Reef northeast of the Seaway using metal jigs on gelspun line, and this should improve in April. Even in strong current a heavy jig on thin braid can get down in to the strike zone easily, and this has meant the jiggers have been able to keep fishing through the summer months.
For those interested in billfish most of the action tends to be on the wider grounds, although the inshore reefs will still produce a few sailfish and the odd small black marlin. April is an excellent month for striped and blue marlin out on the shelf, with most boats concentrating their efforts on using big skirted lures to cover plenty of water in a day. The blues in April average about 140kg and the stripies are about 80kg to 90kg in the main. A few short-billed spearfish also occasionally turn up beyond the hundred fathom line in April.
Closer to the Seaway, April is a great month to anchor up on an inshore reef and berley hard with a livebait on the surface, one down deep and a couple of pilchards floating down the berley trail. This can produce a great mixed bag with cobia, snapper, Spaniards and even marlin getting involved. Also, if there isn’t much swell, spend a bit of time in the area around the sand drop-off just out the Seaway entrance. This is a great spot to drift a livebait on the top of the tide.
There can be some fantastic action in the Seaway area in April on lures and bait. If the blue water just starts to push inside a bit on the top of the tide and mixes with the dirty edges of the river water it creates a lot of distinct colour changes. This marbled water is great for mangrove jacks, jewies and tailor, and a lot of offshore species such as mackerel will also sneak inside chasing baitfish. The area around the end of the north wall of the Seaway has a 17m deep hole, and a livebait dropped into this on the run-in tide is very likely to get chomped. As well as jacks, mulloway and tailor, expect tarpon and GTs along with a few big flathead. In the past few weeks quite a few doggie and spotted mackerel have turned up here too. It is a great area to jig soft plastics and metal lures as well.
Prior to February’s big wet, the pipeline in the Seaway was producing plenty of small yellowtail kings and amberjacks on lures. Most of the action was on the early morning high tides. In April, as the water cools a bit, the kingies may return.
The first sea run bream often start to appear in late April, and Jumpinpin and the Seaway are good places to start looking for them. Live herrings and poddy mullet often account for the biggest fish.
Up the rivers, a few whiting will still be around, and on the flats the lizards will become active as the water cools. It can be a good month to get out the small soft plastics and minnows and work the flats around Crab Island and Tipplers. It’s also an excellent month for garfish. A good game plan that is simple and effective in April is to work a period of around two hours either side of high tide. Set your crab pots in the weedbeds for sand crabs and then anchor up and berley with bread for garfish. With peeled prawn, light line and a small quill float you should produce a feed of fat gar in quick time. The weed beds just north of Wavebreak Island are a good place to start. When the tide starts to run out do an hour or so of flathead trolling or jigging, then pick up your pots. On most occasions this produces at least half a dozen sandies, a feed of gar and a few flathead. Kids love these kind of trips.
The banana prawns may start to show in April. The last two seasons have been poor, but recent rains should get the prawns on the move and April is the best time to chase them around Jacob’s Well and the Logan River. It’s a great month for prime seafood!
1) The prime offshore species during April are Spanish mackerel and wahoo. This 15kg Spaniard was taken on a Hex Head.
2) April is the best time to cast net prawns around Jacob’s Well.
3) You can expect plenty of this during April!
4) The current on the wider reefs starts to drop after Easter and the bottom fishing for pearl perch and snapper improves.Reads: 4250