Another week of lockdown here in Victoria! The unfortunate news of a statewide lockdown over the weekend cancelled fishing plans for many. Nonetheless, there has still been a few fish caught this week. Fishing is still permitted in Victoria, as long as you’re within 5km of your residence, and out for no more than two hours. Let’s take a look at the fishing scene this week, as well as look forward beyond lockdown.
In the salt there has been very few reports coming in. A combination of lockdowns and poor weather have been the main reasons behind the lack of fishing. The inshore snapper have still been fishing well off Warrnambool during breaks in the weather. Xavier Ellul and his dad Marty have spent a few hours on the inshore reefs, and found some good bags of pinkies. Reefs in the 20-30m mark are the best bet. Try running small baited flasher rigs (such as the Black Magic 3/0 Snapper Snacks), baited with pilchard or squid. Jigs (30g), and soft plastics (4″ sized), will also work too, although most anglers have been running bait. Late last week, Tac headed out from Port Fairy and he was able to find himself a solid sized gummy shark. Once the lockdown lifts and we can travel a little further afield, the tuna will likely be a sought after target. Port Macdonell across the South Australian border has seen quite a few fish coming in of a good size, although it may be some time before Victorians are able to fish those waters. The salmon have been able to roam free along the beaches this week, with anglers being restricted to local waters. Before the lockdown, Killarney and Port Fairy were the locations of choice. Let’s hope the fish will still be there next week! Stickbaits to 120mm, and metal lures in the 40-60g range will be the best picks lure wise. Bait anglers won’t be able to go past bluebait on a paternoster rig, especially if spiced with a surf popper. Target the deeper gutters, which will often stand out as green/blue water amongst the foamy wash. On the calmer days, large schools of salmon can sometimes be seen cruising along the beach, visible to the naked eye. These schools appear as large, dark patches almost like a reef- so keep a close watch on the reefs/kelp patches for movement.
Estuary fishing has been tough. The place to be has been the Curdies, which has seen plenty of saltwater moving in. This time of year, really refreshes the rivers with floodwater cleaning out the stagnant upstream waters, and clean saltwater pushing into the lower reaches. The lake at Peterborough has seen some large volumes of saltwater moving up into the lake. The fish have responded well, and as a result, the lake is now the best spot to be fishing in the Curdies. Just above the lake, the river for the first few hundred metres will be worth a try as well. Try black blades in a 3.5g size, or a paddle tailed soft plastic (eg Daiwa Bait Junkie or Z-Man Slim Swimz), in the deeper water. In the lake, where depth is typically less than 2m, shallow hardbodies and lighter soft plastics (on 1/16thoz jighead) will be the picks.
The freshwater rivers have begun to calm down after weeks of high flows. No doubt this won’t be the last of the floods for the year, but there is a window of opportunity to get some trout at the moment. The Merri has been the pick of locations. Running large hardbodies, upwards of 7cm, in the usual locations such as Bromfield Street weir, and the Levies Beach bridge, has seen some quality fish landed. This time of year also generally sees some fish taken in the estuaries. Whether these fish are true sea runners or not is up for debate, but they certainly do occupy the estuaries in spring. Estuary trout can be difficult to target, and are generally caught as bream by-catch. Locally, most are taken in the lower Merri casting hardbodies, or in the Hopkins below the stones, often on soft plastics intended for other species.
September does see the changing of seasons for freshwater anglers. The trout season opens on the 4th of September, having little effect locally but opening up more fishing options in other areas of the state. River Blackfish season closes on the 1st of September- you won’t be able to target or take blackfish until the 31st of December. These fish are in quite low numbers locally anyway, so releasing blackfish year round is a sensible idea. Murray cod season also closes on the 1st of September. Again, this won’t affect us too much in Warrnambool, but for anglers heading north this is worth keeping in mind.
Let’s hope this lockdown is lifted next week, and we are blessed with some good weather to welcome us back!