The frustration of the prevailing easterlies is starting to hit a lot of anglers across the south west wanting to venture out offshore. To fuel the obsession of fishing, a lot of anglers have been hitting the beach and rivers just to wet a line.

Saltwater: as mentioned, the chance to hit the offshore grounds has been limited due to strong winds and small windows of opportunity. When there has been a weather window there have been some great captures so the potential is certainly there. One angler that took advantage of the small window was the crew of Allistar and Ollie Sharp who took Toby Hellessey out for some snapper in close. The boys were determined to target the snapper on soft plastics and it didn’t take long for Ollie to be hooked up to a 52cm fish on a Daiwa Bait Junkie 5” Jerk Shad. While watching Ollie fight his fish Toby had his sitting in the rod holder when it buckled and went nuts. After fighting it back to the boat a 55cm snapper surfaced leaving Toby stoked. It’s great to see young kids getting out and trying new things, and succeeding. Another species which has been keeping anglers rods bent is the whiting in the shallow waters surrounding Killarney, Port Fairy and Warrnambool. Cody Kelly had a great session over at Killarney on the whiting and salmon, as well as a couple of mullet. Using pippies for bait, he certainly stocked up the freezer with some fantastic fillets. One absentee lately has been the small snapper that were bugging anglers earlier in the season.

Estuaries: the Hopkins River was opened on Wednesday, with the river levels quickly dropping. Earlier in the week, the waters were spilling over most banks onto fresh ground. This hasn’t deterred the fishing with some great bream and perch being landed right throughout the system. Tooram Stones has seen the perch taking surface lures and shallow running hard bodies cast up on top of the stones. Unfortunately there has been some big fish that have won their freedom after being on the wrong side of a rock or snag when hooked. Tim Vincent had a great session in his kayak recently where he landed multiple bream and perch on a range of surface lures. Slick Pemberton ventured out in his honey hole and got some beautiful bream up to 1.2kg on crabs. His best 10 went a smidge under 10kg, and really came on the chew in the middle of the day after a quiet start. There is a stack of bait in the system, which indicates a healthy river. Unfortunately a group decided it was up to them to try and open the system by digging a trench between the ocean and the estuary, but thankfully they were stopped and ordered to fill it back in by the Glenelg Hopkins CMA. It still baffles me that people think it’s ok to open a blocked river without knowing the consequences if the water quality isn’t right. The Gellibrand River at Princetown was one system that a member of the public thought it was a good idea to open, only to have one of the biggest fish kills our area has seen. Unfortunately to this day the system really hasn’t recovered properly due to the river being opened at the wrong time. It is an offence to open the rivers without permission and can lead to jail time so best to leave it to the professionals who actually know when to open them.

Freshwater: the Merri River is to get a face lift up at the Bromfield Weir with its removal set to begin in the next year or so. Multiple studies have been undertaken to determine the effect of these this structure, which has been proven to be detrimental to native fish populations. Most fish (both native and introduced) struggle to get around the wall so following it’s removal, we will see bream, trout, perch and a range of smaller native species free to move through the river. The upper Merri has been producing some nice trout for those casting shallow running hard bodies and flies. Max Kandage caught his first trout on the fly up at Woodford behind the school; a very respectable 52cm model. Many fly fisherman are still yet to catch a trout on the fly and for someone so young who taught himself, it’s a real credit to his determination.

Saturday looks to be the pick of the days to head offshore for a bottom fish or a search for some school tuna with the swell under 2m and relatively light winds. The Hopkins may take some time to stabilize after being opened, but sometimes a running system for a couple days can really get them going. Until next week tight lines and best of luck!

Don’t forget about our Barrel Tuna night coming up on the 1st of April at Richardson Marine. The night will be an information packed couple of hours where charter operators Matthew Hunt and Dan Hoey will spill the beans on what makes them so successful at targeting these huge fish. We will have over $2500 worth of giveaways and also dinner will be provided in your $10 admission price. The night will begin at 6pm so get your RSVPs in and lock yourself into a great night. Thanks to our sponsors for making this night possible: JB Lures, Colorato Lures, Bonze Lures, Wilson Fishing, Australian Fishing Network, Tuna Champions and Nomad Tackle.