Autumn is certainly one of the best times to fish here in the south west of Victoria; some (myself included) may even call it the most productive time to fish locally. It’s the perfect transition between winter and summer species in both fresh and saltwater. A bit of rain brings the river heights to a perfect level. Calmer average weather allows more anglers to head offshore. We’re past summer, so the boat ramps and towns are usually quieter. What’s not to love about autumn fishing?
Tuna are the number one autumn target in the saltwater locally. Anglers come from far and wide to our corner of the world to target the southern bluefin tuna; we are very lucky having them so close to home! Despite the fact that tuna are basically a year-round fish these days, autumn is still the prime time. The school fish begin feeding after a summer of sunning themselves on the top (which makes them difficult to catch). Birds also move in on the bait schools and make the fish a lot easier to locate; find the birds, find the fish. Both stickbaiting and trolling will work well. Most anglers cast lures in the 120-140mm range (eg Bassday Bungy Cast, Fish Inc Flanker, Nomad Riptide, Maria Loaded) into the schools of busting fish. If you’re looking to troll, try a Burple Black Magic Jetsetter, a Crystal coloured Pakula Micro Uzi or Uzi, or a 120-140mm diver (eg Zerek Speed Donkey, Rapala X-Rap, Samaki Pacemaker).
Autumn is also the time when the barrels turn up (usually March). Whilst we haven’t seen any fish landed this season yet, there has been whispers of large fish out there on bait balls. Watch this space!
Shark fishing is also prime during autumn. Whether you’re off the beach for a gummy, dropping in 100m for a schoolie or drifting for a mako, there’s plenty of sharks around. The last few weeks have seen really impressive numbers of mako sharks, but also some cracking gummies, schoolies, and even reports of bronze whalers and threshers. Autumn is prime shark time.
Inshore, the pinkies and whiting are still around after summer, but you’ll also see salmon beginning to move into the beaches. Currently the salmon are hanging out wider in 15-20m of water, but with a bit of swell and cooler weather they’ll move to the sand by late April and into May.
Late autumn is often associated with really good trout fishing both in rivers and lakes. The natural spawning instincts and behaviours of trout begin to kick in as river flows increase and water temperatures drop in May. Even at this time of year, we begin to see the trout start to change their feeding habits from insects and shrimp over summer to fish, which makes them easier targets on lures. Purrumbete and Bullen Merri, known as winter trout fisheries, have started to produce a few but will be heating up (technically cooling down!) by May.
Bream fishing can be hit or miss in Autumn. The fish have seen a lot of lures and bait over summer and are getting pretty sick of people. The last three weekends on the Hopkins now have had bream tournaments which makes things pretty difficult, but nonetheless fish still have been caught in great numbers and sizes. Quite a few mulloway have also popped up in the Hopkins; March through to May is when probably the best fishing is to be had on mulloway locally. In fact, the Hopkins has had the best mulloway numbers we’ve seen for probably a couple of years now.
There really isn’t any species locally which aren’t firing at the moment; get out there and get amongst it!