In Depth Fishing Report 19/1

19 Jan 24

Just like this whole summer, we find ourselves blaming the weather for lack of opportunities thanks to the prevailing south easterly winds. There have been some moments of magic where the wind calms down and the sea is back to what we are used to this time of year. Just like that though it was over and at then time of writing this we find ourselves back in winter like conditions wearing jumpers and pants again! So even though it seems all doom and gloom there have still been some good captures recently.


Saltwater: The gummy and school shark fishing has been nothing short of insane lately after a bit of a slow start to the season. Ollie Mugavin, Felix and Matt McDonald and Rohan Murfett fished off Port Fairy with local Ron Dew. After stopping into the Tackle Shack for some bait, berley and advice they were off and excited at the chance of landing a feed in the deep blue. Once the berley hit the bottom it didn’t take long for the action to begin. After a few hours in great conditions the boys were stoked with 3 nice gummy sharks and a massive smile on each of their faces. The difference between our frozen berley logs and the competitions is that they are made entirely of 100% pilchards. So why is this super important and why do they work so much better than others? It’s simple, pilchard has a very high oil content and is very smelly too so it draws fish in from a wide area. As good as it is this berley and all other frozen berleys need to be on the bottom where your baits are. Unless you’re trying to berley for a mako or thresher then placing your berley in a pot and sinking it to the bottom is the best way to entice a bite. The Dorman brothers have been catching some ripper school sharks off Portland’s North Shore recently. Ray was telling me of a story brother Chris was telling him and it showed just how thick they were on this day. After hooking a school shark and then dropping it he proceeded to retrieve the rig back when it took off again. He fought the shark back to the boat which took a fair amount of time due to being hooked in the tail. He realised that when he was retrieving his rig there were so many sharks that this one got foul hooked in the tail just swimming past. Pretty cool story for sure! Plenty of snapper are being caught around the place lately with all sorts of size ranges being caught by both bait anglers and those using soft plastics. Fish to 3kg have been caught in the deeper waters along with some quality nannygai and blue morwong. All these fish inhabit the same reef areas so there is a real chance to catch all 3 in one session. If fishing off the land is more your style then the whiting should be right up there on your list of fish to target. King George Whiting have been in decent numbers with some fish being thumpers around the 50cm mark. Like every year we are hearing of big whiting eating snapper and gummy baits in the deeper waters but most of the action has been coming from the shallower grounds. Port Fairy’s harbour is alive with life at the moment with some great whiting, trevally, salmon, flathead and the occasional squid kicking about. Looking for those broken patches of weed and sand and casting your baits into these will be your best bet for the whiting and flathead. The snapper tend to move around a bit more and will be found all over the place so a berley trail will be very important. Best baits still remain pippies for the whiting, pilchard and squid for snapper and blue bait for the flathead.


Estuaries: the Hopkins River remains open with low water levels proving tricky for some boaters navigating the river without hitting the many submerged reefs that aren’t signed properly. The most notable one that gets people stuck is the big reef on the west side of Mahoney’s Road boat ramp. To make it simple, when the river is low don’t even bother going on the inside of the markers and stick to the middle of the river through this section. If you haven’t been boating in the Hopkins River for a while especially during low light conditions and at night you would have noticed the new buoys that have inbuilt lights on top of them. Great work by the Warrnambool City Council for doing this which makes it a lot safer for boaties to navigate during these times. One thing I will mention though is the amount of jet skis that are being noticed driving stupidly fast in the 5 and 8 knot zones in the river. Many have been spotted driving full throttle across the mudflat across from Proudfoots. There are many metal stakes that sit just below the waterline here and if a rider fell off onto one of these I fear the worst will happen. There is a massive part of the river that is left for ski boats and jet ski’s to be able to do their thing in a much safer area so I’m not sure why these complaints are being made by members of the public. Anyway there has been some great bream caught recently in the lower section of the river by a lot of anglers both local and traveling. One local crew that love getting out onto the river is Mick and Fergus Mahney who recently scored some great bream. Fishing with Keitech 3” Easy shiners in the bluehole area Ferg landed some solid bream to high 30cm’s. Fishing them very slow across the bottom digging up puffs of sand has been getting the breams attention and been enough to entice a super aggressive strike from them. The best fish seem to be coming from the very bottom of the river and the rock walls along the river where these fish will be looking to put back on some condition. Using live crabs cast against the rock walls is one of the most exciting forms of fishing for bream especially when they tend to be bigger fish taking crabs. It can also be a very frustrating way to fish especially when they start to just lean on the bait and  not take it properly. Other times they will nearly rip the rod out of the boat and be on straight away but one things for sure, you need sharp hooks and plenty of them as you’ll soon go through lots of them through bust offs and fish swallowing the hook right down. The Glenelg River is also quite low and there has been another lot of fresh water coming down from Rocklands which has made it very difficult to fish in especially in the upper reaches. Just a quick warning regarding the Pritchards boat ramp after some users noticed a big hole in the right hand side looking at the ramp. Just be very careful when launching your boat there that the trailer doesn’t get caught on the lip. Parks Victoria are aware of the issue and are working at trying to get this fixed or repaired. Mulloway reports have been slowly improving with some solid fish caught around Donovans and Dry Creek. One angler hooked and landed an 87cm Mulloway on his very first cast of the day on the rock wall at Donovany6s while chasing bream. These fish are a great surprise for those anglers not targeting them especially on light line. 


Couple of last things I would like to mention is the upcoming Warrnambool and District Angling Club’s annual Easter Fishing Classic that will be held over the Easter Long weekend. This year we are giving one lucky person the chance to walk away with a brand new Quintrex 350 Explorer Outback, Suzuki 15hp 4 stroke outboard and Telwater trailer valued at over $14,000. Tickets are on sale now via Eventbrite or the Facebook page of the club. Not only will someone walk away with a brand new boat but there are also a swag of other exciting prizes for the heaviest fish weighed in each section. This year the club will be donating a big chunk of the profits to the Warrnambool Muscular Dystrophy awareness group to help fight against the Duchene Muscular Dystrophy illness that at the moment is unfortunately incurable. So to help donate and potentially win a new boat head to the Facebook page or via Eventbrite and search Easter Fishing Classic. The last thing I wanted to mention is the increase of fisherman blatantly fishing inside the marine park between the end of the breakwater and Thunder Point. Fisheries Officers have been called multiple times with many anglers just ignoring signs of no fishing and doing it anyway. There are hefty fines for doing so and it’s just not worth it anyway. 


This weekend sees an influx of tourists come to town for the Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic so we might see extra anglers and extra boats on the water. Until next week tight lines and best of luck.