It’s been a few weeks since the weather has put a stop to offshore fishing for pretty much the entire week but last week was certainly that week. Massive swell and high winds had the offshore brigade grounded and looking for other options in the rivers and lakes across the south west. Lets dive in and have a look at what was caught this past week.
Offshore: This week’s offshore report is going to be very brief as I said in the intro. Some quality snapper and shark have still been landed off Warrnambool and Port Fairy when the weather permits. Anglers aren’t getting lots of good snapper but when they find them they are quality fish. Squid and Pilchards have been the pick as well as fresh couta which is not hard to get at the minute with the toothy critters fairly common. Still some reports of school shark terrorising the bottom anglers who have been losing a fair bit of gear lately. Tuna reports continue to be slow around Warrnambool and Port Fairy but there is a steady run of small fish at Portland still. Fishing small skirts such as the Pakula Micro Uzi’s and diving minnows will put you in the best chance to land some tuna.
Freshwater: The rivers across Warrnambool have been getting a good work over by local anglers on the hunt for a winter brown trout. The flavour of last week were trolling Tassie Devils in the lower Merri River and if you were casting then soft plastics are the go to. The two river rats in Luke Gercovich and Xavier Ellul have been peppering the rivers for great results casting soft plastics and shallow hard bodies. I fished alongside these boys on Saturday afternoon and watched Xav land a nice brown of 4lb on a Westin Shadteez after the fish rose close to him and a quick cast had him convinced. These trout have been feeding up on small minnows and can be seen clearly launching out of the water after the schools swimming on the surface. This is your best chance of a fish and your cast should be in the approximate area of where that fish came up. If your lure or soft plastic lands somewhere near that spot then the hook up time is pretty minimal. Along with some great trout fishing lately the redfin have also put up a good showing especially in the Merri. Fish to 47cm have been landed by anglers chasing trout on soft plastics and baits such as worms fished on the bottom. The crater lakes have been pretty hard work with anglers spotting lots of big trout but catching them is another story. Majority of anglers that I’ve spoken to have had giants come and look at the lure but aren’t committing to it. OSP Bent Minnows have been the flavour for the last couple of months along the deep weed beds. Working them with a steady walk the dog action is the way to do it as I was told by Tim Vincent and Lewis Holland on a recent trip. Lake Bullen Merri is giving up some Chinook Salmon for those bait fishing down deep with cubes of pilchard and trolling hard bodies on down riggers. Some nice rainbow trout have also been caught trolling hard bodies both flat lining and on down riggers. A good fish finder is paramount when doing this style of fishing as you will find the thermocline on good sounders and the fish will be sitting just below it on most occasions.
Estuaries: The Hopkins continues to be a struggle for most but there has been some noticeable captures lately. One of these being another nice Mulloway caught by Graeme on his trusty live mullet. I’ve had many anglers telling me that they have been marking them up in the ski run for a couple of weeks now but captures are very skimp. Again the bream have been tough to figure out and have proved a challenge for most targeting them regularly. Mick Wilkinson has been having some success down the bottom end of the river fishing his faithful cut mullet fillets unweighted. This time of year cut baits such as mullet come into their own and prove a deadly offering for bream, estuary perch and mulloway. Fishing with no weight allows them to take off with the baits and 100% commit to eating it. The Curdies river has again fished really well over the past week with some excellent days being had by quite a few anglers. I fished it Sunday in very trying conditions and myself and Mick Hunt landed in excess of 40 fish on Zman Grubz cast in tight to the edges. Using Micks new Garmin sounders made it light work finding them and then catching them with both his standard sonar and side vu picking them up with ease. We noticed that most fish were sitting off the edges in 3m of water which was where the fresh water line was on top of the salt water. The quality of the water has changed a lot over the last week and has turned very muddy due to the water level dropping and the run off from the paddocks upstream. I can see the river really shutting down this next week or so as the fish begin to move right out into the middle in search of the oxygenated water where they can recharge their batteries.
This week looks like a great fishable week with Northerly winds and small swells bracing the coast so heading offshore shouldn’t be an issue for those chomping at the bid. Dodge tides are on the cards which might make some fishing a bit more tough but time will tell. Remember to send your pics in for the golden fish award for your chance to win a $600 combo at years end. Until next week tight lines and best of luck.