Get Crabby in Good Weather
  |  First Published: March 2010

April is always a top month to wet a line in the waters around Bowen, and this year should be no exception. The estuary fishing in particular is looking very promising coming off the back of a pretty decent wet season, which means some great mangrove jack and barra fishing.

One of the biggest draw cards of fishing this time of year is that the unsettled monsoonal weather conditions usually begin to stabilise and the regular down pours of February and March begin to ease. This gives the estuaries a chance to settle down and clear themselves of the fresh dirty water run-off. As the estuaries return to a degree of normality, the jack and barra fishing becomes a lot more consistent as the fish move back downstream towards the mouths.

Most barra captures at the start of last month have been coming from up the tops of the creeks and estuaries. The bigger fish have moved upstream with the large downpours of rain. As the rain eases, the barra have been returning to the mangrove-lined banks and holes at the mouths of creeks. This has certainly been the case in creeks to the south, such as Adelaide, Duck and Billys creeks, where the barra have begun to congregate once again around the rocky headlands and mangrove flats closer towards the mouths.

Most of the monsoonal and big flooding weather should be over in April (fingers crossed); these areas will be prime spots to target a big barra. Small prawns are the dominating bait in the estuaries at the moment, so fishing areas where prawns are prevalent is a good start to snaring that big barra. Soft plastics, especially the 3” and 4” Atomic Prongs in pearl and white are a great prawn imitation and have certainly been an effective barra lure so far.

One of the best April target species in Bowen is the tasty whiting. Around Easter, big schools of whiting congregate at the mouths of the Don River, Bob Moses and the surrounding small creeks and gutters making them easy prey for anglers with a light rod and yabbies. Whiting are best targeted at the bottom of the tide when they are more concentrated, and freshly pumped yabbies are a must-have bait.

This is also a top time to target whiting on lures and small poppers if you are after a bit of challenge. Always use as light as line as possible as this will increase your bite significantly.

The crabbing has continued to be excellent and should only improve as we move through the month. April is a bit of a transitional months for crabbers as the wet weather strategy of working the open grass covered mud flats and mud banks and gutters around the mouths of creeks changes to working pots back up the estuaries. The myriad of creeks north of the Don, such as Bob Moses, Boat Creek and Meatworks, are almost guaranteed spots for this time of year with the southern creeks from Duck to the Gregory also firing. With plenty of crabs around, April is a great time to wack a few pots into the local creeks around town, such as Sandhill and Magazine Creek, which also tend to give up a few sand crabs.

Last month saw some awesome red fishing out from Bowen with the Shoals east of Holbourne producing a quality consistent nannygai bite for those who fished the deep water rubble. Even when the reds weren’t biting there was plenty of 3-4kg grunter on offer to keep anglers interested. This bite should continue into April and as the days get cooler the fishing during the day times should improve.

Whilst the big Spanish mackerel are still a couple of months off yet, there are plenty of pelagic options available to anglers in Bowen waters. This month sees the return of schools of small baitfish to the area bringing with them feeding pods of long tail tuna. These bait ball bashing pelagic speedsters will be consistently found in open water about 8km out towards Holbourne Island and seem to feed most actively late in the morning. High Speed spinning gear is the go but with large concentrations usually associated with the month of April on offer, trolling metal lures at high speed around feeding pods should also be productive. These fish do not require wire and are a great species to target on light gear and even fly.

Another pelagic species that is on offer in April is the cobia or black king. Last month saw plenty of school sized cobia caught out on the various wrecks and shoal areas that lie in Bowen waters. Most fish have been around the 10-12kg mark but some absolute thumpers around 25kg have also grabbed a few baits and stretched a few arms around Bradys Reef just off Glouster Island. These cobia have been taking large baits a couple of metres off the bottom and, in typical cobia style, fight all the way even when they are in the esky.

The inshore barge wreck only 3km of North Head has also produced plenty of school sized cobes, with lots of tea leaf trevally taking baits. These fish will continue to bite well in April and are a definite target species for this time of year.

A much-loved favourite of mine also begins to pop up in April and that is the humble squid. The rocky reefy headlands of Bowen are a perfect environment for squid to school and breed and April is a favourite month to dust off the light spinning gear and squid jigs and chase up some fresh calamari. The rocky headlands around Murray and Horseshoe Bay are definite hot spots, especially on calmer days.

Squid are not just great on the plate they also make excellent bait. Remember to freeze a few whole for bait, especially if you are heading out wide as they are great bait for nannygai, fingermark and coral trout.

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