In Depth Fishing Report 13/4

13 Apr 23

What a wild weekend we have just witnessed along the South West. Strong winds and heavy rain showers definitely slowed up most anglers but with a local fishing competition being run there were still some excellent captures.

Estuaries: the Hopkins River was like a parking lot for boats over the weekend with the Warrnambool and District Angling Clubs Easter Fishing Classic running from Good Friday to Easter Sunday. Although anglers could travel as far as the Curdies and Fitzroy Rivers, it was the Hopkins that saw most of the activity. Ray Dorman blew everyone away on the Friday with a cracking bream that weighed 1.546kg and rocketed him to the lead overall. It would turn out that this fish would be enough to take out the full competition and earn him another 1st place after previously winning this comp a couple years ago. Rays fish took a liking to a glassie and was caught at Pelican Point at the top of the ski run. In a hot session which saw Ray, partner Shona and good mate Rick land more than 10 fish over 40cm. The ladies section was won by Yvonne Treloar with a bream of 1.162kg that was caught out of the Merri River on a crab. Juniors saw the fishing mad Mason Hunt take out his 3rd Easter Fishing Classic with a bream that weighed 1.209kg and was caught on a scrub worm. Over the course of 3 days there was numerous bream weighed in over 1kg which just shows the healthiness of the systems around us here. Yambuk Lake saw a couple of competitors make the trek over and found some great fishing for the mid-range bream around 800g that was climbing all over soft plastics rigged very light and skimmed across the weeds. Although not the biggest fish they certainly made up for it in the fighting department according to the anglers. The Glenelg is fishing well for mulloway after a very slow period of little to no action. Amanda and Phil Pirotta ventured over to the Glenelg for a change of pace after chasing bluefin for a few months. They landed some nice fish on a mixture of squid and pilchards fished up river. There has been some huge schools up river from the border all the way up to Hutchisons and it’s great to finally see them firing. Although most of these fish are the schooling size which is anywhere from 50-80cm they still provide a buzz for those targeting them and feeling that initial run. Using your sounder to find likely drop offs where the mulloway can cruise up and down the edge of these are essential in making sure you’re in the correct area. Many boats anchor on the very edge of the river which allows them to then cast to the drop off without needing to anchor in the middle of the river in order to cast to these said drop offs. A simple running sinker rig with either a single octopus hook or a snelled set of octopus hooks will be your best chance of hooking up as they can be very fussy.

Saltwater: the tuna bite off Portland seems to be slowing down but that’s to be expected with the amount of boats driving over them day after day. From what I’ve heard these big fish seem to be moving more east from Portland which opens up a huge area of space to target them. One customer reported that they put in a full day off Portland and only saw 2 fish on bait balls whereas the week before they had hundreds marking up. We as anglers just need to remember that being a pelagic fish they move where the bait and current is, so just because they were there yesterday doesn’t mean they will be there again the day you go out. Leigh Oakley and his mate had 2 shots on fish east of Portland and lost both fish due to equipment failure but got one of these fish up to the boat which was estimated at 100-120kg. Unfortunately for Leigh and his mate it was a combination of errors which included a rod snapping mid fight and then the wind on leader pulling through the Dacron which ultimately led to the fish winning its freedom. Even though the boys never got the big fish they got a nice bag of school fish which were hungry as! If you’re planning on fishing for these bigger fish then matching skirts and hard bodies up to squid and saury colours will mean that you are matching the hatch as they say in the classics. Oranges, reds and silver or blue have been working very well lately due to their close resemblance of the bait that these fish are feeding on. Nomad DTX200’s are also a brilliant option if you’re looking for something that is sub surface and will track great in all conditions. The beauty of these particular lures is that they have a neat feature called an auto tune bib which is a stainless tow point that moves and allows the lure to start tracking properly even after being knocked by a fish or in rough weather. These lures in the right conditions and the right set up can track at 10+ knots which is insane and shows just how well they are balanced. The bottom species at the shelf have also been pretty productive of late when the weather permits. Scott Gray and Paul Tinkler ventured out off Port Fairy where they landed a great feast of blue eye, gem fish, blue grenadier and some other tasty critters. When you have days like this it definitely makes up for the long trip out and back that you need to do. Still some mako sharks about with some very respectable captures caught recently. Cody Symons landed a pending Victorian Game Fishing 10kg line class small fry record Mako off our coast which weighed 42.3kg. What a great effort by such a young lad even with a broken arm! 

Freshwater: the lower Merri has seen a few trout starting to show up but remain very spooky due to the clear water in the lower sections. Bill Quinlivan landed a nice trout that weighed 1.77kg in the Easter Fishing Classic which gave him 2nd place in the Mens section. Xavier Gercovich also caught a nice trout which weighed in at 1.621kg. Xav’s fish took a liking to a Daiwa Double Clutch trolled near the Edwards Bridge. This area is a great place to start searching as it provides plenty of man made and natural structure for the trout especially given the clarity of the water. Using natural coloured lures when the water is clear and try replicate the thin profile of the bait fish that are in the system. This is what has made the Double Clutch so effective over the years with its slender profile and natural colours to our area. Lake Bullen Merri is firing for Chinook Salmon and Tiger Trout for those anglers trolling lures such as Tassie devils and deep diving minnows. Using downriggers is a very effective way of fishing these deeper lakes but isn’t necessary at the moment with most anglers just flat lining behind their boats.

This weekend looks to be much the same as the previous one with conditions deteriorating and some steady winds expected throughout. Some die hards will be out there chasing the barrels but I would think long and hard about whether it’s worth it or not. Until next week tight lines and best of luck.