Calm seas and fish galore over the weekend were a welcome return for the offshore crew. It was a case of picking a target species, and heading out there; no need to worry about weather conditions!
Saltwater: With these calm seas we saw a variety of captures from the shallow ground all the way out to the shelf. One crew that made the trek out wide was Luke Smith, Tyson Osborne, Lewis Holland and Jessica Lane, who were rewarded with a great bag of gem fish, blue grenadier and Jess’s ripper mako shark. Often targeted on heavy gear, these speedsters can put on quite a show which is exactly what happened with this particular shark on the spin gear that they were running. The shark took a few jumps and some good runs before it was boat side and gaffed. This wasn’t the only mako caught for the weekend. Anne-Marie Oosthuizen caught a beautiful mako off Port Fairy whilst bottom fishing. This fish was estimated at 70-80kg and was caught on her pink custom Ranga Rod. Thanks to Sam Powell and his crew who called them in, after they caught numerous gemfish. The mako swum around their boat for a while, before moving over to the Oosthuizen’s boat and took the bait. Barry and Liam Smith also caught a mako but was a much smaller specimen off Port Fairy while bottom fishing for snapper and gummies. This time of year is great for chasing makos both in the deep and shallow grounds. Like always with ay shark you need to pay respect to the fact that they can do so much damage in a short amount of time. Despatching the shark before it comes onboard is a very smart thing to do, providing it can be done safely. One piece of valuable equipment is the trusty roll of duct tape which is used to tape the mouth shut of these sharks so they can’t nip you or bite any of the gear on the deck. Some sort of matting is a great idea to protect the side of the boat from the gaff being driven into a shark that is going bonkers. King fish and tuna have been prolific along the coast and have been getting caught on both trolled lures and skirts and also stick baits. Xavier and Marty Ellul fished off Port Fairy late last week for some ripper kingfish over a metre long. Trolling sluggos along the inshore reefs and casting into the schools of tuna was how they got the bites. Xav said that there was kings climbing over the tuna to eat the lures which were out of the blue. On the bottom fishing scene there are still plenty of snapper and gummy shark to be had for those wanting more peaceful fishing. Finding the broken ground with a mixture of reef and sand has been the best area to start your search. Anchoring has been the stand out especially if you are berleying. It seems at the moment the fish are taking a while to switch on and start to feed which means giving the berley time to work is definitely the way to go.
Estuaries: The Curdies River has been fishing well for estuary perch and bream along the edges. Fishing high above the Boggy Creek boat ramp with Ecogear SX40s has been a really productive way of fishing for Steve Eldridge. Slowly trolling these lures behind his boat has been producing some nice bream and EPs, with some bigger ones winning their freedom. The lake section around Peterborough is weeded out and near on impossible to fish, so heading upstream is the go. The Hopkins River continues to be a hit and miss place at the moment, with some anglers doing well and others struggling. Paul Lamb won Allansford and District Angling Clubs Harry Taylor Memorial on the weekend, fishing with crabs on the rock walls. Lamby was the only angler to weigh a fish over 1kg in what proved to be a tough day to find the better quality fish. Further west over at the Glenelg River, in the lower section of the system there has again been some nice mulloway although the fishing isn’t anything spectacular. Trolling live mullet and lures of a similar size along the flat rock area is producing the odd decent fish, which is a common thing this time of year. Typically this time of year the fish are wide spread but popular areas such as the poles/flat rock and upper Taylors Straight are well worth a shot. Kane Maniapoto and his wife took their new boat up the river for a night fish and christened it with some nice school size mulloway after dark.
Freshwater: Lake Bullen Merri has produced some epic bass fishing once again for Declan Betts and Dan Mackrell. The boys landed 8 bass at an average of 50cm which is an unbelievable result for these fish, and those who put the early work into the stocking program. Not only are these fish long they are also super healthy and could take on the home of big bass in Australia; Lake Sommerset in Queensland. So what do you cast and how do you fish for these beasts? Time on the water and a lot of trial and error is unfortunately what is needed to be consistent on this waterway. I would start with a slowly rolled soft plastic through the schools, or something like a rattling vibe lure slowly hopped down the drop offs. Use your fish finder to find likely areas and schools of fish holding on the bottom which will usually mean bass. The hardest thing to do with deep water bass fishing is telling yourself not to strike on small bites and wait for the proper ones to eat it.
The weekends forecast shows a couple small windows of opportunity to head offshore before lunch on both days, so hopefully we see some more kingfish and tuna action along with a mako or two also. Best of luck!