In Depth Fishing Report 26/4

26 Apr 24

With the temperatures briskly dropping across the southwest, we have seen an emergence of many of the common winter species over the last few weeks. Instead of the shorts and t-shirts anglers were donning earlier in the month, everyone is now all rugged up in puffer jackets, beanies and trackies!

We saw dozens of boats heading out last weekend, with flat seas and plenty of reasons to be out and about. The barrels really turned up in big numbers, with dozens of fish caught locally including some over 150kg! Ashby Hoey and James Cauchi continued their fine form with a 147kg fish, taken on a Nomad Mad Macs trolling vibe. A lot of fish have been taken trolling this week but there has also been anglers having success with live baiting, often hooking up instantly when fishing bait balls. There has also been fish caught towards Port Fairy, and the area offshore from Port MacDonnell is still firing. In addition to the barrels, we saw lots of school fish caught in last weekend’s South West Game Fishing Classic, held by the WOLGFC. Archer Mills was lucky enough to score a pending state junior record of a 17.94kg tuna on 6kg line. The champion boat (tag and release) was “Anna-Belle”, Stephen Rhook’s 7.1m Seacruiser. There was plenty of tuna tagged and release which is great to see. Whilst southern bluefin tuna numbers are on the rise globally, with stocks rebuilding at 5% annually from the lowest point in 2009 (currently at 23% of pre-fishing numbers), it’s still excellent to see anglers looking after and releasing tuna, both barrels and the smaller school fish. Xavier Ellul did something a little different last weekend, leaving the barrels alone and instead going for a deep drop where he scored some nice blue eye trevalla and ling with Luke Gercovich. Inshore, there’s still a few whiting and snapper kicking around as the Chadderton boys (Matt, Roger and Lochie) found out whilst fishing over at Portland. Lochie scored a 53cm whiting, a really solid fish, and some snapper to 3kg. There was also an 88kg thresher shark taken over at Portland by an angler trolling a Nomad diver targeting tuna. Shane Jones also headed over, targeting tuna but instead finding some big school and gummy sharks as a backup using fresh salmon for bait. Salmon are present on the beaches such as Logans, Levies and Port Fairy East Beach, no really big ones yet but lots of smaller ones 30-45cm which are still fun, easy to catch and great bait.

In the rivers, the bream are still firing. The Glenelg and Hopkins Rivers were both manually opened by the Glenelg Hopkins CMA last week, and prior to that the Merri opened itself naturally. Normally the fishing is quiet for the week or so following the river mouth opening, as the fish adjust to the changes in water levels. Tim Vincent headed across last weekend with Ella Haugh to the upper Glenelg estuary around Moleside and scored some ripper bream and EPs to around 40cm, just fishing soft plastics tight to the edges on sunrise. This weekend sees the Vic Bream series head across to Nelson so it will be interesting to see how this talented field of anglers goes with these dynamic water levels. This week has also seen the (near) competition of the Merri River weir removal project by the Glenelg Hopkins CMA. It will be interesting to see how the fishing changes throughout this stretch of river, as for the first time in 100 years, migratory fish such as bream and estuary perch will no longer be blocked from swimming up the river by a 1.5m concrete wall. It would be ideal to see some estuary perch stocked up here, as currently they are unable to breed in viable numbers in the Merri River. If this is something you’d be keen to see, have your say on the Victorian Fisheries Authority’s 2024/25 stocking plan on their website and let them know how great it would be to have an estuary perch fishery in the upper Merri River, like there once would have been. The Merri has started to produce a few trout this week, with travelling angler Wil Tippet finding some nice fish on the fly a fair way upstream. The river is looking clear, clean and heathy with lots of bait so it will be exciting to see how it fishes over the coming months as the temperatures drop and the rivers rise. The Curdies River has slowed right down, with most anglers reporting very quiet fishing upstream from Boggy. While I haven’t been downstream to check, I expect it’s still got thick blue green algae as does Yambuk Lake/Eumeralla River, Lake Gillear, Lake Aringa and Lake Winslow.

If you get out fishing over the weekend, good luck, and let us know how you go!