This week in the south-west we received a tad under 60mm of rain- but overnight! The rivers could be watched as they rose and rose, swelling over the banks and inundating roads, towns and bridges instantly. This put an end to the river fishing pretty quickly and unfortunately this will continue for another week or two. But there is light at the end of the tunnel!

You’d have to be pretty keen to get on the rivers at the moment. The Merri River rose to 8m in height on Friday/Saturday after Wednesday nights rain- before slowly dropping back. The Hopkins takes longer to rise, but soon hit over 4m, which meant massive amounts of water roaring over the mighty Falls. Within a few weeks, we will be seeing a few changes to our rivers. The fish will have moved. Schools of bream and perch in the estuary will be following the saltwater to the mouth, with mulloway also following the dirty waters from the ocean up into the rivers. The lower reaches of the estuaries, near the mouths, will be the spots to target using heavy plastics and vibes. Trout will be pushed around with the floodwaters, and dispersed through the system, spreading fish out which is much needed in our stocked rivers locally. The base of falls and weirs rarely fail to produce following floods as fish move downstream, but can’t get back up. New snags will have been created from natural or human sources. The banks will be lined with dead reeds, logs, trees and bushes, plus other lovely additions such as hay bales and dead cows. These provide nutrients for the rivers and habitat for the fish. In addition, fish such as mulloway respond very well to floods, and often only breed following floods, as seen in 2010/11. This should mean extra fish numbers over the next few years.

And how about the saltwater? Take a look at the Warrnambool or Port Fairy bays at the moment, or the mouth of the Curdies or Glenelg Rivers, and you’ll see a mass of brown water. Some species which tend to frequent the salt (such as squid, whiting and wrasse) will be moving to find the clear saltwater they enjoy. Other fish such as bream will be moving out of the rivers into the bays to feed as the freshwater concentration increases. And predatory fish, such as snapper, mulloway and sharks, love the muddy water washed out by floods, using it as cover to feed heavily on fish washed out into the bays. Excellent land based action can be had using strong smelling fish baits in the bays during this time, particularly around beaches and bays adjacent to river mouths.

So whilst the fishing night now might be reduced a little, rest assured floods are a natural cycle and will be resulting in many benefits for both fish and anglers over the coming months and into the future. It sure beats drought!