IN APRIL the current from the north generally slows down a little and the pelagic species change. Black marlin become much less common on the inshore grounds although they’re often still in reasonable numbers on the 50 fathom line. Spanish mackerel generally increase in both size and numbers on the inshore reefs and should provide plenty of action around Mermaid Reef, Palm Beach, the Gravel off Burleigh Heads, the 24 Fathom reef off Southport and the troll run along the front of South Stradbroke.
Most seasons April is wahoo time. At the time of writing the action has been all marlin with very few wahoo. This has kept all my precious marlin lures intact, which is unusual at this time of year. In April there is usually plenty of wahoo activity around the tweed Nine Mile |Reef, with a lot caught trolling high speed heavy skirted lures such as the locally made Hex Heads. The key seems to be working the high reef and around the edge of any tuna schools present. Minnows are also good strike producers at times, and a small live tuna slow trolled is one of the best tickets in the wahoo lottery. In April the wahoo off the Gold Coast average around 15-18kg and each season there are a few over 30kg.
Spotted mackerel have been a bit erratic this season and have been very flighty. The area at the back of the surf along South Stradbroke Island has produced a lot of spotties this year. Because this area contains no reef at all, and the mackerel move around a lot, it can be difficult to locate the fish. The key seems to be to troll a water depth of 10-20m and look for bait and birds. Small Hex Heads or pink squid over tinsel work well. Keep lure size about 10-12cm and troll at around 8 knots. It also pays to have a few casting lures rigged as the fish commonly pop up on the surface, and spinning is often more productive than trolling. The area a kilometre south of Couran Cove Resort has been the most productive spot in recent weeks.
As the current drops bottom fishing on the wider grounds starts to improve, and quite a few snapper, pearl perch and teraglin can be caught on the 50 fathom line or 36 fathom reefs. Jigging for kingfish, samson and amberjacks is another option as the current slows down. Deep water livebaiting using big slimies is an excellent way to target the bigger fish.
On the wider grounds it’s a great month for blue marlin, with a few striped marlin also about. Trolling large skirted lures on heavy tackle is the preferred method. The blue marlin average around 140kg and are tough on any gear less than 37kg. The Tweed Canyons is an excellent wide ground to target blue marlin in April, and you may also encounter a few yellowfin tuna.
In April the water temperature in the estuaries starts to drop, and as the days get a bit shorter the water on top of the flats starts to cool. At this time a lot of fish move back into the shallows to feed. It’s a very productive month for whiting and garfish on the top of the weedbeds and broken ground at high tide.
Garfish can be caught throughout the central Broadwater this month. The technique is simple: a light quill float, light line and peeled prawn bait are all that’s required to get a good feed. Bread berley in an old onion bag or keeper net usually gets the gar feeding at the back of the boat in a few minutes. It pays to move around a bit and fish on the last half of a run-in tide. Chicken fillet is another good gar bait, and has the advantage of being less appealing to the swarms of undersized bream that can be a pest at times.
Whiting are usually on the bite in April in the Nerang River. Early morning when the boat traffic is minimal is the best time. Shrimp can be caught with a dip net throughout most of the tide cycle and are an easy, ideal bait for this species. If there has been a lot of fresh, yabbies are a useful alternative.
As conditions cool bream become a lot more active in the Seaway. At the end of the month the first big blue-nosed bream start to enter the estuary in preparation for spawning. Live herrings fished at the end of the rock walls commonly produce big bream to over a kilo.
Flathead have stayed on the chew all through last summer, and this month there should be plenty of 40-50cm fish on the top of the flats. Soft plastics have totally changed flathead fishing in recent years, and in my opinion this is the best way to catch a feed. Most of the fish in April are fairly small so stick to lures less than 10cm long.
Banana prawns will become active in the Logan and around Cabbage Tree Point this month, and cast netting is the best way to get a feed. When the prawns are running there are usually plenty of boats after them. The power lines on the western side of Russell Island are a good place to start looking for them.
Livebaiting the entrances, around Jumpinpin and the Seaway will produce tailor, school jew, a few great trevally and the odd big flathead this month. If you can get outside and catch a few slimies you’ll always catch a few fish. Big mangrove jacks are in numbers around the north wall of the Seaway at this time of year.
Overall, April is a great month to fish both inside and outside. Conditions are usually quite good, and from wahoo to whiting there is always something to catch.
1) A nice little black marlin. These should still be around on the 50 fathom line during April.
2) Ben Job with a nice cobia from Palm Beach.
3) The author with a kingfish from the Seaway.Reads: 577