In Depth Fishing Report 10/5

10 May 24

This week's offshore fishing has been great which is partly due to the flat seas and calm winds making it easier for boats to head out offshore to target the staple species on offer this time of year. The rivers have been a little tougher but the rewards are there for those willing to look a little harder.

Saltwater: The barrel tuna fishing has again been spectacular with both Portland and Port MacDonnell again the hot spots with fish to 165kg being caught in shallow water in both areas. Most fish that I know of have been landed just beyond Lawrence Rock in Portland which is anywhere between 30 and 50m of water. One boat fought a barrel right into 10m of water so they are certainly going right in close. Skirts have been the pick of lures again and the colours have been random as with not many patterns of lure colours standing out over the rest. Everything from the favourites such as lumo, redbait and angry skittle have all gotten fish and the odd random colour thrown in between. The most important thing when targeting these big angry fish is checking your gear over before you set your spread. Everything must be assessed from your drag pressure, main line condition, hook sharpness, leader condition and even the layout of your boat so that when you do get the bite you have everything in place ready to go. Making sure these things are done and ticked off is another step to landing these powerful fish that many of us anglers love to target. Another species that we love to target in the south west is gummy and school shark and these two species have been fishing quite well. Sharks to 28kg have been caught right up and down the coast with freshly caught fillets of couta, wrasse and silkys. Along with fresh bait the old trusty pilchards and squid have also been going quite well if you just want a quick easy option too. The odd good snapper has been found mixed in with these sharks too which has been a welcome surprise for anglers. Snapper to 56cm have been landed recently and there’s no reason why these fish can’t continue to show up when chasing sharks.

Something that’s happening and is very concerning for Port Fairy and Killarney is the continued inshore netting of both these bays. Although I understand that commercial fishing is a necessity for providing fresh seafood for those who don’t fish or can’t fish anymore, the use of gill nets especially in the shallow waters of Killarney is just damn right taking the Mickey now. Not only is this style of fishing a non-sustainable practice but the areas and species that are being targeted could so easily be wiped out and it take years to recover. Killarney hasn’t been netted for 25 years and now a boat from out of the area comes in and just does what they want for their own gain. The government and the authorities need to be made aware of this issue and make changes to the rules before it’s too late. Killarney has been a great hunting ground for years and for it to be wiped out for a quick dollar would be devastating for the angling community. Portland was saved from this same netter last year, and now it's our turn to stand up.

Estuaries: the Hopkins River has seen some big schools of estuary perch up river lately. These fish have been taking soft plastics fished through the schools. They can be super finicky at times and a lot of the time you’ll just get a slight tick in the line. When this happens you can do one of two things. First thing to try is slow the retrieval down and annoy them into committing to it. The second thing is slowly lifting the plastics and dropping it back down through the school. One of these slight differences can sometimes make the difference between having a real go and the same little ticks in the line. The bream have been spasmodic and very unpredictable and I suspect this will continue until we get proper rain and they move down to begin their annual spawning. Over at the Glenelg River the bream have been going well down the bottom section of the river. Using either crabs or freshly pumped worms on the incoming tide will give you the best chance of landing some solid bream. The mulloway just aren’t firing up in there yet with plenty of them marking up on fish finders, unfortunately as most of you know that have targeted them before you just can’t make them eat when they don’t want to. Ensuring that you have proper bait presentations and fresh baits will mean that you are giving yourself the best chance when one decides to eat. Fresh is definitely best when it comes to mulloway baits and there aren’t many better baits than live mullet. When the mulloway are fixed on eating live mullet you’re almost guaranteed a fish if you have the right size bait. Too big and the mulloway will just grab the mullet and kill it and too small you will get all the bi-catch such as perch and bream annoying you. Nelson mulloway also love some fresh squid done as either rings or strips fished on a single paternoster rig or a running sinker rig. These bite size pieces are perfect when they aren’t that hungry

Freshwater: the Merri and Hopkins River trout are beginning to get active with some nice captures recently both by boat and by land based anglers. Hunter Boekhout scored a nice 48cm trout while casting a soft plastic in the Merri. Michael Malone chucked on his waders and ventured up stream looking for a good trout. He was rewarded with a beautifully coloured brown trout on a glamourous day. The water is still super clear which is normally a bad thing but by the reports we are getting in this hasn’t made much difference apart from being able to spot the fish you’re targeting before you catch it. Ollie Sharp landed a great trout out of his kayak locally just before dark. The last bit of light is widely regarded by many as the best time to target a big trout so you might need to rug up to have a chance at a whopper. Lake Purrumbete is fishing OK for redfin but the average size is way down with a lot of smaller fish mixed in. The occasional chinook salmon is also being caught with most of Ken Carman’s charters from Victorian Inland Charters getting at least one. For the redfin live minnow or soft plastics fished down into the schools is the best option. Lake Bullen Merri is much of the same thing with some decent chinook salmon being caught on the troll with downriggers and paravanes getting the lures down to the depth that they are sitting in. Using your fish finder to first find that area that they are sitting in will definitely make your life easier once you deploy the downrigger so you can set the lure at that depth and target that. No point setting the lure in 5m of water if they are all sitting at 10. The Koroit and District Angling Club are holding the second Carp Fishing Classic next weekend. This will be held in the Hopkins River and the Emu Creek which will kick off on Friday at 4pm and run through until Sunday where the weigh in will be done at 11.30am with all fish to be presented prior to this whole in form. There will be one weigh in which will be conducted at the Warrnambool and District Angling Club rooms on Simpson Street and Otway Road. A BBQ along with the bar will be available on the day after the final weigh in.

The weekend’s weather is looking pretty good for a fish offshore so I would expect more tuna, shark and snapper action come to light early next week. We as a recreational fishing community need to stand up and make a stand against what is happening in Port Fairy but we can’t turn to violence so having your say should be as far as you take the issue. Things take time and we just need to be patient and get things done in the right way. Until next week tight lines and best of luck.