It’s starting to cool down and daylight saving ends this month but the fishing is still hot so we have plenty more time in the mornings, rather than the arvos, to get into the fish.
Throw in Easter and there is a tonne of time to get right into some excellent fishing.
The high point will be the big snapper that show up right in the shallow, rocky bays and over the bommies on the Easter full moon. They hang around until the dark so you don’t get a long go at them but they are worth it, with fish plenty of fish up to 8kg.
They then disappear until the cuttlefish show up in late June/July so make the most of it while they are here.
Anchoring and berleying is the best method but you could try messing about with soft plastics.
The only problem with the berley is the abundance of small whaler sharks that seem to be in the shallows this time of year and they just love a big slab of fresh frigate or slimy mackerel set for a snapper.
All those other great species that were about in March are still here but taper off over the next few weeks and May is your last shot, if the cold water hasn’t pushed up early.
Kings are still on the menu and if you can find a frigate mackerel, particularly around Bass Point or the islands off Port Kembla, and troll it slowly around the drop-offs you will hook one – the rest is up to you.
There are still plenty of good legal kings up to 8kg over most of the usual spots taking live mackerel and yellowtail and when you get them going, small whole squid work well, too.
It has been a good season for kings with size and numbers picking up every year. It has taken 15 long years to get this far after the devastation the traps caused but we are getting there, yet it is still only a shadow of what they were like in the 1980s.
Another April event is the run of big bonito. There have been plenty of bonnies about this year with standing room only down at Bass Point on the rocks as the schools work the bait balls
The big ones like the deeper reefs so keep your eye out for them and scale the tackle down to take advantage of the power these fish can generate. A 6kg bonnie on 3kg tackle is as close as you will get to a mini-dogtooth, the only difference being bonnies don’t run you through the reef and cut you off.
They can be trolled up with deep-diving minnow lures or cubed up with pillie pieces. The cubes work well on the snapper, too, so you can broaden your species options using this method.
There are still plenty of schools of small bonito, salmon, kings and trevally working baitfish on the surface with some big kings shadowing them.
Farther offshore the dollies are still hanging around the FADs but their days are numbered by the end of the month. But they were still here last June, so you never know.
Out on the shelf blue marlin to 400kg are the main target with big lures and heavy tackle the order of the day. Striped marlin will be there as well and on the heavy tackle a quick poke with the tag pole sees them on their way nice and healthy.
Black marlin can be around and are usually solid fish during Autumn so a grand slam is possible.
Yellowfin tuna are showing out wide, too. Reports of fish to 30kg are filtering through so larger fish should not be far away if they keep to the usual program.
Troll small skirts and Rapala X-Raps until you find the schools, then a handful of cubes thrown in while fighting the fish should get them under the boat.
You will get a few false starts as there are some solid striped tuna schooling out wide as well.
In close over the reefs there is still plenty of action on small snapper, trevally, samson fish, teraglin, mowies and heaps of leatherjackets, while the flatties are on the chew over most of the sand patches.
Top that off with a few flounder off Port Kembla Beach and there is more than enough to keep you busy.
The beaches are still excellent although the evenings can get a bit cool towards the end of the month. What the whiting lack in numbers they more than make up for in size.
Bream are on the move mornings and evenings along with salmon and some very solid tailor on the northern beaches.
The tailor seem to get the jewies going so the big evening tides will be well worth a look on any beach with a good gutter or from the breakwalls at the entrance to Lake Illawarra.
Fresh slabs of tailor and slimy mackerel are the top baits but they are copping a hiding from the bream, tailor and salmon so be patient or whack on a big live tailor and go for bust on a big fish.
The rocks are going well with heaps of surface action in places like Kiama, Bombo, Bass Point, Honeycomb, Port Kembla breakwalls, Wollongong Harbour breakwall and Coalcliff. Lures and pillies under bobby corks are getting salmon, bonito, tailor, trevally, slimy mackerel, kings, mackerel tuna and a few frigates.
Big kings are taking live baits on the deeper southern ledges early mornings but when the kings slow down, keep the livies out: April is big mackerel tuna and longtail month and they can show up any time of day.
Mid morning and just on dusk are the prime times but it is well worth putting in the time if only for that first blistering run of a longtail. They are generally good fish up around 20kg when they get this far south.
The bream are getting moving in the washes along with some nice drummer to 3kg and a few trevally. Use bread for berley and prawn baits.
The estuaries are starting to slow but there is plenty of life left in the lake and Minnamurra this month.
Flatties are slowing but they will have a late spurt on the dark in the middle of the month when the last of the prawns run.
Bream are really on the bite, particularly on small lures, in the streams and around rocky foreshores.
There are some solid whiting around the entrances on the shallow flats and some big blackfish are starting to move. Squirt worms are the top bait.
Big mullet are in the streams and over the weed if you berley with bread. There isn’t much in the estuary that pulls as hard as a big mullet on light tackle and they make good jewie baits.Reads: 2019