With the poor weather this past weekend, and the lack of opportunity for everyone to get out, I thought I would turn your attention to what will be coming on the bite as the water cools down and we start to see some cold water species turn up.
Offshore: the saltwater anglers will slowly start turning their attention back to the huge tuna that frequent our coastline each year. If the past couple of years are anything to go by, then we should see these fish widespread from as far east as Melbourne, all the way through to the prime grounds at Portland and Port MacDonnell. So what is it that makes barrel anglers lose their mind when there is as little as a whisper of big fish around? The moment when you finally stumble across a proper work up of bait, and fish absolutely destroying them, is something that I think brings anglers back for more each and every year. Not only that but when the reel finally starts to get line ripped off it at 100mph the rush that anglers get is what makes these fish right up on the target list over the colder months. To target these monsters of the blue, you’re going to need some serious tackle, including line, rods, reels and lures. In the rod department, most anglers are running a 24kg -37kg stand up rod with at least a roller tip on it, if not a full roller set up. The idea of a roller tip is that over long periods of a fight the line won’t build up as much friction as it’s running over a moving part as opposed to a standard tip that heats the line up over time. Overhead game reels are certainly something that needs to be used if you’re going to be serious about landing one. A 50-80 sized game reel such as the Penn International 50/70 or a Shimano Tyrnos 50 are a great couple of options. Matching these reels to either straight 24 or 37kg mono is the traditional way of setting them up but a lot of anglers are turning to braid for the lack of drag in the water and the line capacity you can get on a reel. The other component of a braid backed reel is having a top shot of 100-150m of the required mono on top, giving you that little bit of stretch which avoids the hook wearing a large hole in the fishes mouth during a long fight. Lures will range from huge big pushers like the Bonze D Shackle and JB Chopper range, right down to bullet shaped heads that track well in the rough water. The old saying of chopping and changing until you find one they want to eat is certainly relevant in this day and age. Certainly there are proven performers that keep producing fish year in year out (including Bonze Exocet, Halco Laser Pro, Jaks Zeus and Barrel Bullet), but keep your options open. Another species that the offshore crew hang out for each year is the annual run of oversized gummy and school sharks. The goal is a 30kg shark for most anglers and through this time of year it’s certainly possible. Depths from 30-100m at this time of year hold great numbers of sharks. Just remember it’s smart to release most large gummy/school sharks as they’re often pregnant females. Squid, yakkas, salmon and tuna are definitely the go to baits for most this time of year. We typically see the numbers of smaller snapper drop during winter, and this allows anglers to properly target the sharks without being hassled by pinkies as you would during summer.
Estuaries: the cooler months is when the mulloway begin to stir in south-west Victoria, especially at the Glenelg River. Massive schools of Mulloway make their annual pilgrimage into the entrance at Nelson, and begin to head upstream in search of mullet, salmon and eels. The size of fish during this time of year is exceptional, with fish ranging from undersize all the way up to 50lb being through the past couple of years. Hot spots for these big silver slabs are Popes Nose, Flat Rock, Isle of Bags, Taylor’s Straight, Donovan’s, Dry Creek and the Princess Margaret Rose Caves. Typically the diehards will use mullet trolled behind a putt putt boat, or trolling hard bodies that replicate these bait fish. Fishing with bigger soft plastics in the deeper edges and drop offs will also get you in the right area to get connected to a rampaging mulloway. It’s not only the mulloway that fire up this time of year but also the bream and perch which will begin to ball up in depths from 3-5m of water and can be very easy to land on lures such as black vibes and deep diving hard bodies. Baits such as live shrimp and white bait are also a great way to get stuck into these fired up fish.
Freshwater: all eyes turn to Lake Purrumbete during the colder months for one thing; trophy trout and salmon fishing. Fish of 10lb are a real possibility for this lake when the water cools down and the many baitfish begin to come towards the surface, with trout in pursuit. Anglers are typically trolling hardbodies on downriggers this time of year, but they can also be targeted on surface lures and shallow running hard bodies on the cast. The thick weed edges are the place to look for a trophy fish while casting, but getting them out on light line is another question as the weed can sometime break the leader. There’s a fine line between a leader that’s heavy enough to extract the fish, and one that’s too thick and visible. 8 or 10lb is recommended. The Hopkins and Merri Rivers are also a great option this time of year for those casting hardbodies and soft plastics. Some great trout are caught each year by casting into the flowing water with bigger lures such as the Daiwa Presso 95s. Doing the miles on foot this time of year is the way to cover ground and find the feeding fish, so dust off the gumboots or waders and get trekking.
There you go don’t pack those rods and reels away just yet, as there is certainly going to be some great fishing coming up in the next few weeks that I’m sure you don’t want to miss out on. Autumn is a fantastic time to be on the water as you’ll experience some fantastic fishing for the usual summer species, as well as the winter targets outlined above. Until next week, tight lines and best of luck!