Generally by the time Noosa anglers find themselves looking for fish during April they are prospecting offshore and this will certainly be the case this year!
This summer has seen the best mackerel season for many years, with most anglers bagging out on spotted mackerel and many scoring quality Spaniards as well. A few small black marlin have also been hooked, which of course can turn a great day into a fantastic day.
Spanish mackerel, the larger version of the mackerel family, are a popular target for many offshore fishos. These fish can reach massive proportions, reportedly even more than 60kg, although if you ever catch one that big it would be destined for the record books.
Most Spaniards caught off Noosa are between 10-15kg with a few pushing 20kg, particularly as the numbers begin to dwindle near the end of the season.
The smaller Spaniards swim in schools, which is often why numerous fish of roughly the same size can be encountered.
The larger fish however are nomadic loners that follow water currents to their liking and of course bait schools. It seems they isolate themselves from schools because they are smarter than the average mackerel, dodging sharks, bigger mackerel, giant oceanic tuna and, of course, anglers.
Once these fish push past 30kg they are exceptionally difficult to land and they will test any tackle to the very limit with scorching, drag-burning runs just under the surface followed by lengthy battles slogging it out down deep.
All mackerel have small deathly sharp interlocking triangular teeth which can effortlessly sever any mono. Spanish mackerel and their cousin, wahoo, are very good at this and they will slash at anything moving or breaking the surface resulting in disappointed anglers! The only remedy is wire, which may reduce strikes but will certainly reduce bite-offs.
Sunshine Reef has been the best bet when chasing pelagics. Besides the aforementioned mackerel, there have been good numbers of northern bluefin tuna patrolling the inshore reefs along with a few yellowfin tuna and scattered schools of mackerel tuna, which aren’t really good for anything other than bait.
As the season fades the mackerel may well head to reef systems further offshore. Chardons and North may hold great numbers of mackerel by April if they are not evident on the inshore grounds.
Trolling is a great way to target mackerel. Live offerings under floats or simply unweighted will often bring macks undone and pilchards are always a very good standby for when the livies are all gone.
Most mackerel are great tucker, particularly the Spanish variety. Try the fillets quickly cooked on the barbeque plate with a squeeze of lime juice and a dash of chili for a memorable feed. The fish can also be washed down with a suitably chilled bottle of white wine. Larger mackerel freeze well for short periods, however don’t bother trying to freeze tuna and thaw for the table as the results will be disappointing.
Other offshore options during April will include bottom bashing sessions on the outer reef systems such as the Barwon Banks and the Hards. Almost anything with fins is a possibility out there but the mainstays will be squire, sweetlip, Moses perch, pearlies, Maori cod and the distinct possibility of red emperor, big knobbies, jobfish and arm stretching, tackle busting amberjack.
In the Noosa River mud crabs have made an occasional appearance, although it would seem there are many more jennies and undersize bucks than there are legal ones. Mangrove jack have been caught around the Sound and Woods Bay on live offerings and poppers as well as further upstream along snaggy banks and over rock bars on minnow lures and soft plastics. A few flathead too are making their way onto catch lists while the omnipresent bream and whiting are always on the cards.
A few small jew have been caught also which is generally a bit of a surprise. Runner up in the recent Hobie Bream comp Chris Lacey has been fishing hard of late, as usual, and he too has come up with the occasional jew on lures. His latest was caught on a sinking minnow lure worked through deeper sections of the lower river.
The monster barra have drawn me back to Lake Monduran once again and with a planned trip with seven accomplices on the local houseboat for the best part of four days there is sure to be some action. We will fish hard, quite possibly imbibe and of course have some fun along the way. I will report our success or otherwise down the track.Reads: 808