The offshore season has been fairly hard to predict so far, but there have been plenty of mid sized Spanish mackerel on the reefs just off the Seaway.
A lot of rain and fairly rough conditions have kept most boats inside for prolonged periods, but when conditions have been favourable a lot of mackerel from 6-10kg have been caught on trolled lures, baits and spinning with metals. The 12 and 18 fathom line have fished very well and most anglers are getting their bag limits of three mackerel fairly easily.
By April the Spanish should be a bit bigger in size, and there should also be increasing numbers of wahoo. The mackerel fishing on Mermaid Reef and Palm Beach should be pretty good, especially in the week leading up to the full moon. The reefs east of Tweed should also be very productive and generally produce a lot more wahoo than off Southport. Big schools of long toms usually turn up around the Nine Mile area this month and these attract plenty of big toothy critters.
Out wider, April is a very good month to chase big blue marlin. Anywhere from the 70 fathom line out is always a chance for a blue, and the well known Jim’s mountain, the Tweed Canyons and the 130 fathom line will all produce blue and stripe marlin. Trolled lures on 37kg tackle are the standard approach.
On the 50-fathom line there should still be a few medium blacks around, particularly if the bait hangs around, and there are often a few wahoo in the area as well.
The current generally drops off a bit in April and bottom fishing on the wider grounds improves as the water cools a bit. Pearl perch are a good target on the wire weed patches out on the 50-fathom line, with pigfish and rosy jobfish also being caught. The odd amberjack and Samson also show up this month on both jigs and live baits.
High speed trolling is another good option this month and works well on both wahoo and Spaniards. Metal headed skirted lures, such as Hex Heads are very effective at a speed of 12-14 knots, and the bites are screamers. This is a great way to fish in the early morning when the water surface is quite smooth, and is a deadly method at times especially when fish are chasing long toms.
The drop-off just to the north of the Seaway is also worth a look this month on big run in tides. This sneaky spot gets little attention and can produce big Spaniards, sharks, cobia and spotted mackerel when the bait is schooled up on the big sandy drop-off. Trolled live baits can be extremely effective here, as can drifting and spinning with metal lures.
A lot of the biggest Spaniards caught off Southport come from this sandy drop-off that is very close to home. Pay close attention to the swell as it regularly breaks in this area, but the section where it drops off from 5-15m is the best spot to fish.
The summer rains have been great for the estuary system, and some big catches of flathead up to 70cm came a few weeks after the rain, which is unusual for late summer. Most of these fish were flushed down the rivers with the fresh, but they fed ferociously for a few weeks around Jumpinpin. Most were caught on soft plastics.
This month should see some reasonable numbers of flathead turn up in the creeks and rivers as they move back upstream. The Broadwater is in really good condition at the moment, and the flood of the Coomera River in early February has really fertilised the river very well. There are plenty of prawns and crabs around and after the flood we enjoyed some fantastic crabbing in the main body of the Broadwater.
Whiting are definitely worth chasing in the Nerang this month. As conditions cool down a bit the bigger fish become quite active, and small shrimp are easy to get and a gun bait. I like using shrimp as you can catch them any time of the tide with a dip net around the mangrove roots or hanging out on current lines in knee deep water. We fish 3-4 shrimp or jelly prawns on a number 6 Aberdeen hook and find they are very effective. The by-catch of small bream can be annoying at times, but we’ve also caught grunter bream, giant herrings and trevally on shrimp.
The Seaway is a very interesting area to live bait or fish soft plastics. It produces quite a few school jew, trevally, tailor and big flathead, and produces well after a decent fresh. A good method is to head offshore to the bait reefs and catch plenty of small slimies or yellowtail and bring them back inside and fish them on the drift along the south wall, pipeline (lots of snags) or hole off the end of the North Wall. We’ve fished the Seaway this way since it opened in 1987 and had great success and consistency over this time.
Most of the mulloway this month will be school fish with a lot under legal size. Towards the end of the month a lot of big bream will also start to show in this area.
Overall, April is a very diverse month to fish off the Gold Coast. With excellent summer rains and plenty of bait around it should fish well for a wide range of species, with Spanish mackerel and wahoo being the standouts. I’m off to the NT for a bit of barra fishing but I get the feeling I might be leaving some red hot fishing on my home grounds.Reads: 1960