In Depth Fishing Report 5/4

05 Apr 24

How good was the weather over Easter! We had some superb days for offshore exploration in search of the many great fishing species that are about at this time of year. The rivers were alive with anglers fishing the Easter Fishing Classic also which was great to see.

Offshore: the barrel tuna have turned up in a big way! Although they haven’t been sighted off Warrnambool and Port Fairy as yet, Port MacDonnell has certainly started exceptionally well with some giant bluefin hitting the scales so far. Bailey Petch landed an absolute beast of a fish that weighed in at 160kg and was caught on a bullet head skirt. After 2 hours trying to get it in the boat, Bailey and good mate Jiles Gallichan were stuffed. The boys landed 4 fish for the day releasing two and keeping a couple for a feed which will be shared between their families. These enormous fish demand the best quality tackle to withstand the long fights and extreme pressure placed on the gear. A lot of the top guys these days are using braid on the bottom of the reels with a 100-150m top shot of 37kg mono on top. What this does is gives the anglers more control of the line while fighting fish when there is more line out due to the diameter of braid as opposed to mono. The other is the fact that braid is so much thinner and you can physically fit a lot more line of these reels without going to marlin sized reels. The 50W reels are heavy enough as it is without making them bigger just to fit more line on them. Some of these fish can dump 300m of line from a reel on the first run so even though you don’t need the capacity for every fish you will be wishing for it if you don’t come prepared for the battle. The other very important piece of the puzzle is a good quality gimbal and harness set, and there aren’t many better options than the Black Magic range. They offer standard gimbal and harness sets for straight butt rods right up to the twin pin sets that accommodate for both types of butts on the rod you’re using. Without one of these harnesses your back will be gone in a matter of minutes with no support. Just one piece of advice when using these types of harness and gimbal sets and that is knowing how to quickly unclip just in case you do get ripped out of the boat and need to do so quickly. I’d hate to think what would happen if you don’t know how to and that fish lunges at the wrong time and you go in with it. On the other end of the scale with tuna, there has been some great school fish action closer to home. Sam Powell and Neil Clark headed off Warrnambool last weekend and scored some nice fish trolling the old faithful Zerek Speed Donkeys and Halco Lazer Pros around the bird action. These smaller fish have ranged from tiny 2-3kg all the way to 25kg and are being targeted from the shallows around 10m of water right out to the deep water. Bec Orr scored some lovely fish with Phil Daffy out off Warrnambool. The crew were running Bonze skirts fresh from the Tackle Shack on Easter Saturday, and landed some nice fish in the 15-20kg range. The past blow of south-easterly winds have brought with it some green water which might make it difficult to target them in close. If you are venturing out deep then make sure you take a heavy outfit just in case you have a mako shark come up your berley trail. Jordan Sicely and his older brother headed off Port Fairy in search for one and didn’t think they would get one as big as they did. After having the fish charge the boat and jump a few times they soon realised they had a battle on their hands. After a long tussle the shark was boatside and was darted with a slip tip. They managed to get it back after a bit of dramas and slipped a tail rope around it and had it beat. Not wanting to take any chances with it coming back alive they towed it for half an hour just to make sure it was dead. After weighing the shark it pulled the scales down to 150kg! Believe it or not the other one that they lost the same day dwarfed this thing so there is definitely some massive sharks swimming about at the moment. Closer into shore there has been a great run of snapper coming into the reefs off Warrnambool and Port Fairy but none bigger than that which Graham Coker landed within eyesight of the Warrnambool breakwater, a very respectable red at 81cm. These hard pulling fish are typically found in patches this time of year but when you stumble across them they can provide some unbeatable action. Being in shallower water they can be targeted both on bait on simple paternoster rigs or on jigs and soft plastics. The smaller jigs have become quite popular for anglers who get sick of the pickers destroying their baits. With these type of lures you can catch multiple fish on the one jig without having to re-bait every bite you get. The general consensus when it comes to jigging is that it is very hard on your body but the micro jigging is the opposite, with minimal movement needed to make them irresistible for the many reef fish that like to eat them.

Estuaries: The local rivers were buzzing with activity as around 160 entrants enjoyed fishing the Easter Fishing Classic which was put on by the Warrnambool and District Angling Club. This year the club decided to support the Gillin Boys foundation. It was a great success and was well supported by the community, so on behalf of the club they would like to thank each and every one of you that purchased a ticket into the major draw of a brand new boat, motor and trailer package. The Quintrex Explorer was won by Shannon Drake who will enjoy this boat with his little family for years to come. Although the fishing was a lot tougher than past years there still was some nice fish weighed in over the weekend. The heaviest bream caught and released was caught by Mick Treloar with a 1.19kg fish caught behind Deakin Uni on a live crab. The ladies section was a hotly contested section with Wendy Pemberton taking out the section with a solid bream weighing a smidge under 1kg. For the juniors Andrew Mugavin weighed the heaviest bream which was 1.052kg and was caught on the final day just an hour or so before the final weigh in. The Hopkins was where the majority of anglers fished and maybe the added boat traffic caused the fish to go off the bite a bit more. Yambuk Lake is completely full of blue green algae right into the start of the Eumeralla River. Fishing was near impossible in these conditions and we certainly couldn’t find much in this system. The Curdies is unfortunately experiencing another algae bloom and the fishing there too has slowed down dramatically due to this. From all reports the algae has spread to the river up nearly to Boggy Creek which is a bad sign. Hopefully these two systems get a good flush of fresh water and the mouths can open and they get back to what they are known for.

Freshwater: The fishing in Lake Purrumbete has picked up well for redfin and trout over the last week. Kenny Carman from Victorian Inland Charters has been slaying the redfin with his clients onboard. Using soft plastics fished in the schools they have been able to get huge hauls of reddies for the many customers that trust their knowledge. Will we see the “Bete” return to its glory of being able to produce large quantities of 10lb trout and salmon this year? Here’s hoping as it certainly didn’t produce as good during 2023 as it has the prior couple of years. The Rocklands Reservoir is the hot topic in the fishing world lately with numerous big yellow belly being caught and some truly monstrous Australian bass. Matt Bell found some seriously big bass up to 54cm and a bit over 3kg while casting some topwater lures in the early mornings. Although they might not be as big as Murray Cod which is what the majority of anglers are heading up there to target they would definitely pull one backwards. Beefing up your leaders to 10-15lb when targeting them will give you the best chance of pulling one out of the snags that they love.

With football season back up and running there will be a lot of people that will put their boats away for the winter but now is the time to be on the water! As you can read there are still plenty of options to be targeting. If you head out this weekend be sure to send a pic to us via our social media or via email at Until next week tight lines and best of luck!