Saltwater: the school tuna have been in full flight over at Port Fairy and Portland this past week. Xavier Ellul, Luke Gercovich and James Cauchi got stuck into them on Tuesday, both casting and trolling. These fish seem to be feeding a lot better on the bigger baits now, so we should see some more fish taking a broader range of lures. This is a great time to fish for the tuna especially when they are in the shallow water like they are now. Some schools are in as shallow as 8m of water; one minute you could be targeting pinkies and whiting, and the next you’re hooked up to a rampaging tuna without moving spots! Another crew that got stuck into these fish were Janaka Kandage, Peter Sedgley and one of his mates who fished off Portland. These particular fish were wide spread from 15-30m out near the ship anchorage. Trolling diving lures and skirts, the boys got into them and brought home some beautiful tuna for their families. If you’re looking at keeping thee fish for a feed it’s vital to look after them and prepare them to avoid being wasted. There are a number of different ways to do this which will make the flesh taste far better. Firstly, bleed the fish, which is done by simply making a small incision just behind the pectoral fin on both sides where it folds into the body. The knife will pierce a main artery and this’ll ensure most of the blood in the tuna leaves the body. If you don’t do this then the fillets will be still full of blood and won’t be edible. The second thing you can do to humanely dispatch these fish is using a brain spike to access the spinal cord and run a piece of wire down the spinal cord. This instantly kills the fish and also relaxes the muscles and will make the flesh nice and soft. Removing the guts of the tuna will also make your fish taste a lot better, especially if you catch the fish at the beginning of the day. The final, but perhaps most important step, is to place the fish into an ice slurry. Tuna are warm blooded and will continue to run hot if not placed in an ice slurry where the core temperature of the fish drops and again improves the quality of the meat. A fish chiller bag is a fantastic investment for the offshore angler; you can fit multiple tuna in the one bag, keep your fish cold and sealed all day, and yet the bag folds surprisingly small; far more compact than an esky of similar capacity.
Another tasty species is the humble gummy shark which is also being caught easily across the south west. Gavin Buchanan and Barry Thomas fished off Port Fairy earlier in the week, producing a bag of nice sharks. It’s been a great 12 months or so on the shark fishing and I can’t see it slowing down anytime soon. King George Whiting have also fished well over the past couple of months, with the best areas to target them being Killarney, the Warrnambool Breakwater and Portland at Black Nose. This week has been no exception to the hot action; pippies are selling hot so it’s a good time to get out there!
Estuaries: the Hopkins is high and fishing exceptionally well right up and down the system. Pete Hussey has been getting some cracker bream to 45cm on his homemade flies, and witnessed a bream just under the 50cm mark being caught right next to him no longer than 10 minutes after he landed his big fish too. Numerous other 40cm+ fish have been caught by both bait anglers and lure casters. Alex Craig christened his new boat with a couple of solid fish coming on soft plastics. He also experienced some fantastic fishing over at Nelson, with 40+ bream released for the day and some nice mulloway. When the system is high I tend to target the water that was only about a foot deep at normal river heights, as I find this is where the fresh feed is for these hungry bream. What you’ll discover is that these fish will begin to dig in the sand and mud looking for the brown shells that bury into these areas. These are great areas to cast both hard bodies and soft plastics, as the hits are super aggressive and almost rip the rod out of your hand. The other areas to focus on are the many rockwalls and reefs which is where bream will hunt for crabs and the worms living in the coral. If you’re fishing the rock walls remember that the water is up another couple of foot so don’t be afraid to cast right to the rivers edge. You’ll be surprised at where these fish will sit in when the water is high. The Glenelg River has fished well again this week for bream, especially for the bait anglers casting unweighted crabs into the rock walls. The Allansford and District Angling club held their Gerry Taylor memorial over the weekend and Isaac Primmer was the winner of the heaviest bag of 10 bream for 8.995kg. In the ladies section Wendy Pemberton caught the heaviest fish for a lady with a bream of 601g. Jet Flemming caught the heaviest fish for a junior with a 809g bream. By the sounds of it the fish were wide spread from Tailors Straight, right up to Sapling Creek.