In Depth Fishing Report 9/2

09 Feb 24

This week we’ve seen some great variety of catches from all of our local waterways. The late summer/early autumn period is quite possibly my favourite time of year to fish here in the south-west; there’s plenty of species to target, the days are still long, water temperatures good and the summer tourist crowds have headed home, leaving the waterways much quieter.

Offshore, we haven’t had a lot of flat days to get out but there’s still been a few windows presenting which can be taken advantage of. A few of the Warrnambool Offshore Light Game Fishing Club members have been getting out into the action bottom bashing, deep dropping and mako shark fishing. Back in January, member Grub Cole got out with a couple of mates berleying for sharks; and throughout the day they had 16 sharks (3 makos and 13 blues) present themselves! Pretty impressive numbers showing the amount of sharks out there at times. Phil Pirotta has also been out there, scoring some nice ling and blue eye trevalla with Max, and went out with his wife Amanda who landed a very solid nannygai in amongst plenty of pinkies. The pinkies have been very prolific this summer; making easy fishing for plenty of anglers. They’re easily accessible in any of the local bays, harbours, and jetties, and most beaches/rock ledges will always have a few hanging around during summer too. You don’t need fancy or heavy gear; a 2500-4000 sized reel with a 7ft rod and 15lb braid/leader will be fine most of the time. Soft plastics (Gulp Turtleback worms and Z-Man Streakz) and jigs work well, although bait fishing with pilchard and squid fished on a flasher rig is the best method. A bit of berley works wonders too. Isaac Debono has been drifting around Portland harbour targeting the pinkies on light tackle and Bait Junkie soft plastics; he’s reported that most of the action comes within an hour of dark and you can barely keep your lure down there. Fishing for gummies has still been really good too. WOLGFC members and shop customers Peter Goode, Danny Rook and Anthony Smith headed out on the weekend targeting gummies off Port Fairy and came back with a great bag including Danny’s first. The Port Fairy area has also been producing stacks of gummies for Salty Dog Charters who’ve been putting their clients onto some really good bags with plenty of fresh flake brought back to shore. Tuna are still going well over at Portland, with kingfish reports slowing right down (as is typical for February); but the average size is well up. There’s been rumours of a 27kg fish locally not too long ago, and other big ones either side of 15kg around Portland and towards Julia Reef. Although you might have to work a bit harder for kings at this time of year and have to line up the weather/conditions well, the rewards are definitely there. Thick schools of salmon have been filling Portland’s harbour and bay which make for some great fun out of small boats just casting stickbaits, flies, or soft plastics into the feeding masses of fish and cranking them back fast. Closer to the coast, the crays have been crawling. Matty Cook and Ed Richardson headed east recently and got onto some very nice crays diving out of Ed’s Seacruiser Bulldog, a boat designed specifically for this work. Ed’s had a great summer diving and fishing along the far western end of the Great Ocean Road, with plenty of crayfish, snapper, sweep and nannygai landed. Whether you’re diving or drop netting, it’s been a good summer on the crays from all reports.

The local estuaries have all continued to fish well this week, especially the Hopkins. It’s a river that still surprises many with the quality and consistency of the fishing despite running through Warrnambool and being so popular. The lower section of the river has been going well for bream; and down the front, there’s countless salmon, trevally and mullet to be caught. Soft plastics fished on an incoming tide, or in the evening, is basically guaranteed some action. Jack Kelson got out in his tinny last weekend and got a nice one at 39cm on a live crab. Further upstream towards the pass, Hen and Chickens reef and Tooram Stones, perch have been going well on dark with surface lures. The Moyne over at Port Fairy is also going well for bream up river around the lake, and a wide variety (salmon, trevally, flathead, pinkies, mullet, whiting) down lower near the mouth. I got over to the Fitzroy this week finding plenty of bream to 40cm on bent minnows, and estuary perch to mid 30s on Smith Jades and Jackall Pompadours upstream in the kayak. The Curdies has been quiet but there’s some good bream to be caught around the lake at Peterborough just using shallow running hardbodies and lightly weighted baits. In the freshwater, trout reports are typically slow during February as the fish are less active due to warmer water temperatures. That doesn’t mean they’re not able to be caught; more often than not it just means there’s no one fishing for them! Target the deep pools during summer with smaller soft plastics, under 70mm hardbodies or live shrimp under a float. I’ve been coming across a few this summer below the Hopkins Falls just fishing for perch. The wetter conditions over the last few summers have meant the rivers are at the healthiest they’ve been for years with good flows coming down regularly, and the small native fish have responded well with clouds of galaxias minnows and smelt in all the rivers providing a good food source for trout and estuary perch. In other freshwater news, Bromfield Street weir is scheduled for removal in a few months and the GHCMA and Austral Research have been conducting pre-removal fish surveys. The team found some very solid trout and estuary perch below the weir (and around the fish hotels at Cassidy’s Bridge) and some rare native grayling which is great to see.

This weekends forecast looks good to fish although Monday is even better, so hopefully you can get out there!