In Depth Fishing Report 23/3

22 Mar 24

These last couple of weeks have seen some perfect conditions for offshore fishing and anglers have taken full advantage of that. The rivers and lakes have also been fishing well so don’t discount them when looking for that next trip.

Offshore: This time of year is known for both its fishing conditions and also the fishing quality and it has not let us down so far. We’ve seen some glass out days and some red hot fishing to boot. The school tuna have definitely turned up and are wide spread like usual. Lewis Holland and Jessica Lane snuck out armed with some Bassday Bungy Cast stick baits. They landed some nice school size fish and said that these smaller and slimmer profile stick baits turned non feeding fish into hungry ones. Lots of other reports have been coming through by those bottom fishing and noticing the tuna busting up close by. The areas that most have been targeting is off Port Fairy in the 30-50m of water. They have been as close as 11m of water as reported in the past couple of reports but these shallow fish are typically the hardest to get a bite from. From all reports the tuna have been feeding on small baits such as white bait and other bait fish. Nick Whelan came down to fish with local legend Scott Gray and were rewarded with some solid tuna caught both on casting and fly gear. Saltwater fly fishing is growing legs with more and more people looking to do it down this way especially when these fish become fixed on super small baits. Most of the flies that people are using and tying represent these bait fish to the tee. Max Fry, Janaka Kandage and Peter Goode headed out off Port Fairy on the weekend during the Warrnambool Offshore and Light Game Fishing Clubs mixed species member competition. The boys landed some nice tuna on trolled hard bodies and skirts around the work ups that were visible on the surface. They also did some bottom fishing with a big school of swallow tail nannygai coming through and Max getting stuck into them with the jigs. These swallowtail are slightly smaller and more red in colour when compared to their bigger cousins we tend to see more commonly. Not only do they take up residency on the deeper reef but you can also get stuck into them in close while fishing for sweep. They are a great eating fish and look brilliant too. Still the odd Mako shark popping up also for those putting in the hard yards with berley and floating baits. Salty Dog Charters have been heading out into the tuna and gummies, and have always got a floating bait ready just in case one decides to swim up to the boat. A simple balloon with a heavy wire trace and a circle hook with a nice fillet of tuna on the end or a squid will be hard to pass up for a mako. In close there has been some great squid caught and some nice whiting too. Tim Vincent caught a big one at Killarney on Monday night after work. He and Joey Bourke hit the main boat ramp area in search of whiting and squid and they came up trumps with a dozen whiting and a couple of big squid. Local cricketing export Brody Couch has been doing the same thing off the beach with a few squid coming in for him. He is looking to turn these fresh calamari into a big mulloway over at Nelson this weekend.

Estuary: the Glenelg River is alive and well with all the 3 major species fishing well. Mulloway to 21 lb have been caught in the lower sections of the river from the poles to the ski run. Live mullet and white bait have been the pick of baits for those targeting them. There is an abundance of white bait in the river at the moment and with the mouth being closed these won’t be able to go anywhere. Finding the bigger fish will be dependant on whether or not you can find the bait schools. Ray and Brandon Dorman have been landing some quality bream and perch up river on a mixture of Daiwa Bait Junkie Minnows and Z-Man Slim Swimz slowly rolled along the bottom. These fish have been reacting better to a slowly rolled plastic rather than the traditional hop and pause technique that most people associate with soft plastic fishing. The beauty about the soft plastics is there is no wrong or right retrieve for them but rather the speed of how you retrieve is critical. Feeling the bottom is super important as you can tell what type of bottom you are fishing. If your plastic is banging on the bottom and you can feel this very well through your rod then you can tell it’s hard bottom. If the plastic sort of just loads up and releases each wind of the handle then you know it’s soft bottom and will most likely be either mud or weed. Even sand is a sharper return through the rod when rolling a soft plastic so you can really pick up on where and what the fish are holding on. The Hopkins River is alive with a wide range of bream and perch being caught. These fish have been reported from the top of the estuary system from Tooram Stones all the way down to the mouth and everywhere in between. There has also been reports of mulloway to 87cm being caught in here which is not surprising considering the amount of bait in the river. Huge schools of mullet are now stuck in here due to the river being blocked just like the Glenelg. This is my favourite time of year to target big bream in the Hopkins especially when it blocks and they move up into the shallows looking for fresh feed that would otherwise be high and dry. They are hungry, big and willing to eat a wide range of baits and lures which makes for a fun time of year. These fish will be looking to put some condition on before they do their annual breeding run up the river. There has been some great perch fishing recently especially when we get balmy nights with no wind and the topwater guys can get out and cast their cicada and topwater walkers. Great signs for the annual Warrnambool and District Angling Clubs Easter Fishing Classic which is being held next weekend from Good Friday through to Easter Sunday. The major draw is a Quintrex 350 Outback Explorer and Suzuki 15hp outboard which could be yours for as little as $20. Entries can be done in person on Good Friday from 10am at the club rooms on Otway Road or online via Eventbrite or through the clubs Facebook Page. Loads of prizes for all categories are up for grabs in the fishing section of the competition so get your family together and make a weekend of it. This event supports the Gillin Boys Foundation this year so by entering this competition you are also helping find a cure for Muscular Dystrophy too.

This week has seen a new challenge for our area and that is the arrival of a trawler that is shooting nets at Killarney. This boat has already been shut out of Portland and is just moving along the coast working in areas that haven’t been netted for 20 plus years, operating on an ocean licence with no quotas or catch limits. Don’t get me wrong I know the commercial fisherman need to make a living also but the places where this boat has decided to set up is a serious problem and needs addressing before it’s too late. The amount of by-catch that these nets have killed is a concerning thing not to mention what these nets can do to the bottom sea floor and the habitat. This area has long been a favourite of recreational anglers so we need to stand up and make sure that we do everything in our power to make sure that this area isn’t ruined by a greedy boat like this one.

This weekend looks to be a hard one to get out and about offshore with South Easterly winds on Saturday and South Westerly on Sunday. I’m sure someone will still be out there having a go regardless. Until next week tight lines and best of luck.