The past few weekends have seen plenty of boats take advantage of the calm weather and venture out to sea. Anglers also put some time in along our local rivers, estuaries and lakes. There was some quality fish caught up and down the coast, so lets have a look at what kept anglers rods bent.
Saltwater: Many of the saltwater brigade were eager to bottom bounce for snapper, shark and whatever else came along. The gummy sharks provided plenty of action for anglers including Steve Board, who along with 2 mates, got his bag after 1.5 hours of berleying with our frozen pilchard berley logs. Fresh salmon caught that morning was the choice of bait on this particular day. Ben Woolcock also headed offshore with mate Dean Read and picked up a nice gummy. There’s been some nice nannygai also lately which have given anglers a colourful and tasty esky. Not only do they look incredible with their bright red body and large mouth, but they are a treat on the table. You will typically find these mixed in with the snapper around the broken ground or a sharp rise off the bottom. Nannygai are also a brilliant option to cast a soft plastic at or a jig as they can become pretty aggressive when a moving option is put in front of them. Peter Sandow headed out in search of a feed of Sweep with a couple of mates where they bagged 40+ fish between them. Sweep are one of those fish that can be caught one after another in quick succession and then nothing so you need to take advantage of this when it happens cause you can sure get a very good feed in no time. If you’ve never targeted them then you’re really missing out as they are one of the best fighting fish pound for pound in our area and can be caught right up and down our coast. A single or double paternoster rig with a Black Magic KL1/0 hook is all you’ll need to be successful. Float fishing is also effective in the shallower, rough bommy areas. These fish typically live in the inshore reefs under the ledges and amongst some of the gnarliest structure so you will have to be prepared to lose some tackle. The bluefin tuna continue to baffle those who have gone out targeting them with great signs one day and then not a fish the next. Portland is still the most productive and consistent area to fish which is due to a few different factors, including water temperature and bait. Steve Board mentioned they found some tuna on the surface but when they cast lures into them there was salmon coming past the tuna to take the lures. Trolling hard bodies below the fish on the surface can be the most effective way of largely avoiding the salmon, and placing your lure in front of a feeding tuna. The fish you see on the surface are only the tip of the iceberg in a tuna school; so changing it up can prove fruitful. Inshore, squid and whiting have been plentiful on the inshore reefs, particularly at Warrnambool and Killarney, as well as over at Portland around the town reed area. Pippies or fresh squid on a Black Magic Whiting Snatcher, in a berley trail, has been the most effective method. Interestingly, some anglers are having issues with the whiting stealing baits without being hooked, so have been using fish baits such as pilchard or silver trevally; and it’s been working!
Estuaries: The Glenelg River looked like a boat regatta with loads of boats hitting the water in search of a few fish. The Warrnambool and District Angling Club held their annual competition over on the Glenelg over the long weekend. The stand out baits were live crab and pilchards, fished unweighted or very lightly weighted. The heaviest bag was won by Jessica Lane who brought in 10 bream for a combined weight of 7.833kg. In the open section the heaviest fish was caught by Greame Whittaker, with a bream of 1.177kg. Jess also caught the heaviest bream for a lady with a 1.018kg fish. Another lady who did very well over the weekend was Shona Bentley who weighed in a 3.645kg Mulloway which was caught on a pilchard. The most productive areas were the rock walls from Donovans to the highway bridge. The Hopkins River has this week been given some new habitat for the local fish in the relatively barren area between Rowans Lane and Mahoney’s Road. It’s a great initiative and one that we as anglers have been awaiting for a while now. Over 60 pieces of wooden structure have been spread along the bank, with rockwalls installed to stabilise the banks. Habitat, food and shelter will be provided for species of all sizes. Similar works have been incredibly effective in Gippsland Lakes and Marlo, so it’s only going to make this stretch of the Hopkins fish even better over coming seasons. On the fishing scene lately the EPs have been fishing well both up in the fresh water and the estuary, so there is plenty of options to cover. If bait is your thing then gather up some crickets and fish them under a float at night, or just before dark. Tim Vincent has been getting some nice fish out of his kayak on topwater lures as well. The bream seem to be a bit more spread after the water has subsided since the mouth was re-opened a couple of weeks ago. There is still a fair few bream down the bottom below the bridge which have been getting caught on an incoming tide. Blue water has been coming through the system so the water is now nice and clear. A few trevally have been caught up as far as Deakin, indicating some fish have moved in from the salt since the opening.
Freshwater: Janaka and Max Kandage have been on foot recently fishing the upper Hopkins River in search of EPs on fly and hardbodies. Max caught a solid perch on a fly recently, with dad Janaka then landing a nice redfin on a hardbody. This time of year sees a lot of anglers making the long walks through the paddocks in search of the big perch, and it’s a good idea to keep your eyes peeled for snakes. Long boots or waders are definitely a must even if they aren’t the most comfortable things to walk in they could just save your life.