Iluka Bluff longtail
Gold Coast angler Warric Johnston paid a visit to Iluka during March chasing tuna and was rewarded with this nice fish.

Iluka pelagics fire up

Iluka longtail tuna
Mischa Porter of Iluka with a solid longtail tuna taken from the break wall on a surface popper.
Talk about a smorgasbord of bait, part of the stomach contents of Warric’s tuna included white pillies, herring and garfish.
Iluka Bluff tailor
Warric Johnston and Mischa Porter had a ball spinning up a feed of chopper tailor from the Iluka Bluff on lures.

NOW, I’m not sure about you but I for one find it hard to believe that it’s April already, as it only seems a few weeks ago we were celebrating New Year’s Day. For myself, April 2021 has a special feel about it because it marks the beginning of my thirtieth year writing monthly columns for this great publication. Iluka pelagics

When I first started way back, all my articles were written with an old ribbon typewriter on A4 plain paper that I would either post or occasionally fax to the office. Photographs were taken using a Minolta SLR camera with 400 ISO film that I would have developed and then mail the actual photos to the office for each publication. All diagrams of rigs, how to rig bait and mud maps of fishing spots were all hand-drawn with no editing or special touch-ups and as for the articles, these were faxed to the office and published as drawn.

The internet as we knew it back then was really available only to government agencies and emails were yet to be introduced to the general community, and as far as a mobile phone… well, Motorola’s pride and joy was actually the size of a house brick and had to be carried in a bag with handles. Each month I would get paid by cheque… yes folks, I am that old.Iluka pelagics

For many years I covered the coastline from Minnie Water in the south and north to Lennox Head before Gary ‘Squidgie’ Palmer and Brett Hyde came on board and covered the Evans Head and Ballina areas respectively. Anyway, enough of that because the important news is that the Iluka area has been firing for solid tailor, mackerel and longtail tuna over the past month and, as long as we don’t get a major flood this month, these species should continue to dominate catches.

Main Beach has had an awesome narrow gutter on it right beside the Iluka Break Wall carpark, and anglers have been having a whale of a time during the day casting surface poppers into it for tailor averaging around the 2.5kg mark, then at night switching to flesh bait for even bigger fish. Similar fishing is to be had further north at Iluka Bluff on lures with choppers under 4kg being spun up from the southern end of the headland, while on the northeast corner of the rocks many smaller sized fish have also been falling to lures.Iluka pelagics

The break wall has been reasonable, with small longtail tuna around the 7-10kg mark and the occasional bigger fish to 17kg, while the best spanish mackerel to be landed so far weighed 17.5kg and was taken on a live garfish. Also, plenty of large schools of bonito are coming along the wall, so if catching big tailor is your thing, it’d be well worth the effort to spend a few hours on the wall catching these little critters for bait.

Gold Coast mangrove jack guru and good friend Warric Johnston paid a visit for a few days and returned home happy as a pig in mud after landing a few tuna from the wall spinning with lures, though I did promise not to mention the broken rods and lost lures, so I’d better leave it at that. Several nice spotted mackerel were also spun up off the wall on lures, so with April being the best month for big pelagics in this area, the fishing should only get better… if that’s possible.Iluka pelagics

Sure, there are the dead days where nothing gets hooked, but by and large the days when it’s on definitely make it worth putting in the time and energy, which applies to all forms of fishing really. Catches of both spotted and spanish mackerel have also dominated offshore catches, with excellent bags of each species being taken every day the swell allows. Both the southern grounds off Minnie Water and the northern waters off Woody Head are fishing well.

Inside the Clarence River things have gone a little quiet again due to another flow of fresh coming down the upper reaches, however a feed of bream and flathead is not too hard to come by in the very bottom end of the river around Iluka and Yamba, as even on the smallest of tide, clean water pushes back upstream on the bottom. Towards the end of the month mullet should start showing up in good numbers and this in turn will see good numbers of large jewfish move into the river to meet them on their yearly run, so keep an eye on spots such as the T-Piece on the break wall at Yamba because this is one of the first spots in the lower river that will start to hold mullet at night.Iluka pelagics

In the Evans River, start looking for mullet at night at the Bream Hole, while up at Ballina scout around the banks at night from the boat harbour behind the police station to upstream as far as the Burns Point Ferry during the slack high water. At the risk of sounding like a cracked record, when you’re out and about, keep your lights off the water and use your ears to listen for rustling mullet or even better, jewfish chopping into the mullet because on a still night feeding jew can be heard from over 500m away, if you only take the time to listen.

The water off Ten Mile Beach at Shark Bay has fished really well for tarwhine and swallowtail dart on worms and pipis, and if you strike it lucky and find a few shallow deadend gutters to cast a small soft plastic or blade lure into, a feed of pan-sized flathead has been available. April is sure to provide another good month of fishing, so get out and enjoy the cooler evenings as we slowly make our way towards winter.Iluka pelagics

Until next month, safe fishing.

Click here for info on an unforgettable jew session at Iluka off the rocks.

About Tye Porter

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