April is a great month on the offshore grounds east of the Gold Coast. Water temperatures start to drop a little and the current tends to slow down on the wider grounds. Target species include blue marlin, wahoo and Spanish and spotted mackerel; anglers fishing the bottom will find pearl perch, snapper and kingies.
This year was quite a good season for small black marlin, and although the fish almost disappeared in February, April can see a few decent blacks on the 50-fathom line around Deep Trag, Spot X and the fish traps. Live baiting with slimy mackerel is the preferred method.
On the wider grounds there have been quite a few nice blue marlin around, and these should increase in numbers this month. Some of the blues have been well over 200kg and are a big challenge, even with heavy tackle and a game chair. Big lures like the large Meridians and Pakulas are popular, and 37kg tackle is the best line class. I recently saw some photos from local charter boat ‘Sea Ray’ of a blue on the leader and it looked every bit of 250kg. This fish was caught near Jim’s Mountain in late February on a Meridian lure in purple and pink on 37kg tackle.
April will see a lot of action on the wide grounds if the weather permits, and as well as blues there should be a few striped marlin and the odd yellowfin tuna. Another fish that seems to be increasingly encountered is the barracuda. These fang toothed lure wreckers are more usually found close to coral reefs but there have been increasing numbers of encounters in depths of 300 fathoms and more. I have no idea what they are doing out wide, but they can make a big mess of an expensive skirted lure.
Wahoo should be around the Tweed Nine Mile and the 36-fathom line this month. Trolled high-speed skirts such as Hex Heads run at 9-14knots work well, and trolled small tuna are another good option. If the water is blue and the current runs from the north then wahoo are a great target this month. Expect a few big Spaniards around the Nine Mile as well, although the closer reefs off Tweed such as Fido’s are generally better for Spaniards.
As well as Wahoo, expect a few small yellowfin, plenty of mackerel tuna and a few small cobia. As the water cools, a few yellowtail kings also move in on the reef. Jigging metal lures is another good option this month. If wahoo are about, avoid single hooks on Kevlar braid and cover the rear of the lure with a big single or treble on wire. Wahoo love jigs.
For anglers fishing the bottom, the squire and pearlies should be a bit easier this month as less current and cooler water increase the activity for bottom dwelling species. It should also be a good month for fishing for kingfish, amberjack and samson fish on jigs and live baits.
The Spanish mackerel and spotties should still be in good numbers around Palm Beach reef, Mermaid and off Couran Cove. At the time of writing we are enjoying an excellent mackerel season, and by the number of spotties about it is hard to dispute the positive effect that the banning of ringnets has had. Some pretty good Spaniards have turned up lately, with quite a few 15kg and better being caught. Some of the best fish have been caught directly in front of the seaway along the sand drop-off. This is a great place to fish on a weekday dawn high tide, especially when the trawlers are coming back through the bar and are still sorting out their nets.
April has plenty of options in the estuary, and as the weather cools the annual prawn run gets into full swing. This season may be quite a good one due to the rain last spring. Good areas for cast netting banana prawns are the Logan River, the area around Jacob’s Well, the power lines near Russell Island and Horizon Shores near Cabbage Tree Point.
There can be some excellent fishing for whiting this month up the Nerang River when the boat traffic is at a minimum. The river fishes best between the Council Chambers and the Cotton Trees near Sorrento. Soldier crabs, bloodworms and live shrimp are good baits. Some of these sand whiting are over 700g which is huge for the species.
Garfish are another good option this month, and as well as making great mackerel baits, they are delicious eating. The weed flats around Crab Island, east of Bayview Harbour and north of Wavebreak Island all hold good populations of garfish. Try fishing a run in tide, using bread berley and peeled prawns for bait under a quill float. Early morning is the best time. Sometimes a lot of small bream are a pest, but if you persist in berleying you should soon have plenty of gar back in the trail. A small amount of tuna oil mixed in with the bread leaves a slick on the water surface and makes the gars a lot easier to spot.
Bream, flathead and school mulloway become increasingly active this month around the Seaway and Jumpinpin entrances. Small livebaits such as herring as well as soft plastics and hard bodied minnows are all effective. If you are looking for a durable and very effective soft plastic for flathead try the Berkley 3 inch mullet. I used samples of these last year and they are now freely available. They hold their own in most situations against most other brands, and they last quite well due to their tougher plastic.
Overall April is a great month on the Gold Coast. The weather is generally good and there are plenty of options both inshore and offshore.Reads: 813