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April shoals
  |  First Published: April 2004



PEAK fishing seasons for almost all our estuary species along the Queensland coastline vary little from year to year in any given area. Whether it’s a little early or a little late, plentiful or poor, the season remains the season.

If you have only recently become a Queensland Fishing Monthly reader, there are a couple of little things you should know about me. Although I don’t quite rate as a gun angler, I am passionate about fishing – I have learned a lot from my mistakes and have made a lot them. I consider myself as a have-a-go angler and have been having a go regularly for the past 35 years, my casting skills are average, hook-up rate average, knowledge of waters beyond the estuary less than average, but I’m prepared to persevere with inclement weather provided it is safe and there is more than a 50% chance of catching a fish. My success rate is directly related to the number of fish per thousand litres of water ratio.

April is one of those months that see this ratio swing in the angler’s favour in the rivers and creeks north and south of Brisbane. Prawn numbers and movement begin to peak at this time of year, and these prawns become easy prey to their predators which go into an ambush mode, as the prawns find shelter in the siltier parts of the estuary. The fish seem to be aware of this and congregate in areas of the river with a hard base – gravel or rocky shoals. If these are combined with bottleneck areas or rock walls they are the perfect spots for anglers to target. If you haven’t had any success with soft plastics yet, here is your chance. The fish are so used to slamming the prawns they’ll attack soft plastics with exactly the same enthusiasm.

Bream and flathead are most commonly caught during this period on soft plastics. Whiting, which are rarely taken on soft plastics, are also more commonly caught during this period. Natural colours – browns, greens, and clear – 2” single-tails or paddle-tails will do the job. Retrieve the soft plastics as if to imitate a prawn skipping through the water, pausing it in between skips. Be prepared to lose the odd jig or two while fishing the hard faced areas. Your efforts should be well rewarded.

Choosing the days either side of full moon and no moon sees the water draining further off the flats due to the smaller low tides. This leaves the prawns little room to move, so fishing either side of low tide will give the best results.

Below are three of my favourite areas during the month of April.

• The shoals between the Petrie Railway Bridge and car bridge are extremely shallow and are ideal for anglers without a boat. Beware of the rocks here, which can be extremely slippery. Stonefish are also common in this area so it’s crucial to wear adequate footwear. For those who want to fish from a boat or canoe, it’s important to keep noise levels down as the fish tend to spook in this area. Quiet times, quiet approach are essential ingredients anywhere. It doesn’t matter what time of day you fish this area, as we have often taken fish here in the middle of the day, as well as at dusk and dawn, though water clarity does make a difference. The clearer the water, the fewer fish there are to be found. Large numbers of flathead are often encountered here, along with the odd estuary cod and catfish.

• For greater challenge (for more skilled and experienced anglers), try the main highway bridges up from Deep Water Bend. Dead sticking soft plastics directly beside the pylons here works well. Be prepared to lose a fish or two around the pylons, but there are some good quality fish to be encountered here.

• Any of the rock walls in the river where the tide is flowing in the same direction as the wind are good places to try. Less experienced anglers who may not be equipped with electric motors have the opportunity to experience fishing with soft plastics here. Just let the tide, wind or both propel you quietly and slowly alongside the rock walls and shoals.

Another similar area can be found at the mouth of Nundah Creek. The shoals here lie directly opposite the main boat ramp in the creek. They are only 70m from the ramp and can easily be fished from a surf ski, canoe, or similar craft. This area is very well protected from both northerly and southerly breezes. The shoal here runs for approximately 180m [see map].

The Wells is probably the most popular area for lure- and flyfishers alike. The terrain here is semi-rugged and it is best to check the area out at low tide before attempting to wade out. This area is open to Bramble Bay and conditions here can become blustery. Don’t let this put you off though, as some of the better fish are taken here during windy days. Fishing the last of the run-out tide and the first of the run-in will give best results [see map and rigs illustration].

If you’re heading down to any of these areas, stop in at the recently expanded Northside Marine boating and fishing accessories megastore on Sandgate Road. They have a wide variety of soft plastics and jigheads available for this style of fishing, along with the right advice.

Good luck and good fishing. I hope these areas will be as successful for you as they have been for me.

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