It was a week of mixed conditions, which also meant mixed reports. Some anglers caught the motherload and others were stuck in struggle street but that’s this time of year unfortunately.

Saltwater: the gummy and school shark reports continue to come in from both deep and shallow ground. Richardson Marine’s head mechanic Matty headed offshore with Tom and Jackson in search of some tasty bottom critters and was rewarded with a 20+kg school shark that put on one hell of a show. Taking long runs, Matty was put under the pump in 100m of water. Along with some other reef fish like sea perch and tarakihi they were kept busy for most of it. Ed Richardson and Hugh Leishman were out with them in a separate boat, where they also had a great day landing some blue eye trevella and school sharks. Using squid strips and tentacles this meant that the pickers weren’t destroying baits straight away and making them wind back all the way up to rebait. Closer in, the snapper continue to improve and cause havoc with softer baits such as pilchards and blue bait but when you find a patch of bigger fish they really fire up. Many fish to 1.5kg have been caught on the inshore reefs and the fishing will certainly improve as the water warms. Some nice whiting being caught too along the coast by those putting the time in after dark and around a tide change. The old saying no run no fun is definitely true for these fish as they use the current to move between weed patches. The preferred rig for these fish is a Black Magic whiting snatchers which are a downsized version of their famous snapper snatchers. The only thing you need to remember is that they are tied on circle hooks so you can’t strike on the bites. There has been no school tuna reports but there seems to be a fair bit of activity off Port Fairy and Warrnambool with big bait schools turning up in the last couple of weeks. No doubt the tuna will be soon to follow and we will be in for a ripper season again.

Estuaries: with the recent rain falls our estuaries have turned a brown mess which has meant that fishing has slowed considerably. Most fish you will find at present are sitting between 3 and 5m of water and aren’t wanting to eat much. There is a clear salt wedge up around Jubilee Park in 4m of water but is only a small wedge of about 2m. Despite the small size of that sat wedge, there are still plenty of fish to be found it it. From what I’ve been told from customers, all other estuaries are in a similar position with dirty water coming down after last weeks downpour. Declan Betts and travelling tournament gun Kris Hickson smacked some great fish in the Curdies last weekend just before it too became dirty from the rain. Hopefully with some more stable weather coming up we can see these estuaries clean up so we can sight fish to bream on the rock walls and target perch on surface lures.

Freshwater: After Declan Bett’s bass success out at Bullen Merri, himself and Dan Mackrell were eager to have another go. The boys had a ripper session landing multiple oversized bass. These enormous bass that could easily be mistaken for Lake Somerset bass from Queensland. Somerset is often referred to as the best lake in Australia for producing oversized bass due to a massive food source of boney bream; although it could have some competition with Bullen Merri if these bass continue to grow! Bullen Merri was originally stocked with bass in 1996, and stockings continued until 2004. These large bass being caught of late may be 20 years old! With no further stockings for many years, anglers began to have concern for the future of the fishery as these fish grew older. Thankfully, Fisheries has recently begun restocking the lake which ensures a bass fishery for years to come. Fishing with soft plastics that need minimal action from the angler and simply dragging them along the bottom with a steady retrieve the bites are full on. The hardest thing that you will need to teach yourself is not to strike at every little hit because they will continue to follow and hit the lure until eventually they hook up. Don’t think that just because someone else is catching these big fish that you will too, as it took a lot of time to suss these fish out for Dan and Declan and lots of fishless sessions. Lake Purrumbete has really fired up this past week with numerous fish over 6lb being caught on a range of techniques.  Redfin have schooled in 40-50ft of water and are readily taking soft plastics down deep and live minnow. Casting the edges with both soft plastics and hardbodies has produced plenty of rainbow, brown and tiger trout across a range of sizes. So next time the sea is rough, or the rivers run brown, hit up Purrumbete and Bullen Merri for something different.

This weekends weather is looking wet with more rain on the way. Offshore fishing will be limited with Northerly winds and a 2m swell rolling. As we have seen recently this could change at any moment so don’t be surprised if there is no wind and no rain either. Until next week tight lines and best of luck!