It’s looking like a week without fishing ahead unfortunately due to this lockdown. Keep in mind it’s only for seven days, and then we can get back out there again hopefully! Let’s take a look at what’s been happening in the world of fishing this week though. Rough seas and strong winds have made it near impossible for the local fleet of recreational anglers to get out offshore but it hasn’t stopped the charter operators in bigger boats from experiencing some of the best school tuna action in recent times. Rivers are still fishing well also right up and down our coast so there’s still plenty of options for all.
Saltwater: Recent developments on the situation over at Portland with the abalone virus have been welcomed by all anglers making their way down from surrounding areas. We are now able to troll and fish inside the controlled area as long as we don’t use sinkers or use anchors. Basically trolling is permitted and casting stick baits on the surface but no fishing with soft plastics or jigs. Let’s hope the authorities can get this under control and the professional abalone divers can get back to work. The school tuna have been thick to say the least around Portland recently with most charter operators catching 20+ fish before lunch time. Matthew Hunt, Dan Hoey and other operators have been blown away by the amount of school fish recently hitting the decks. Trolling skirts and hard bodies has been the preferred option and are getting snaffled up pretty quickly after being put in the water. Although the bigger fish haven’t quite made it to that area yet the signs are very good that they will get there soon. The amount of bait around Cape Grant is crazy according to Don Marco from Sharkmen Charters, who hasn’t stopped looking for the bigger fish but has been getting lots of school fish. With more boats making the journey down to try their luck I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before we start to see some jumbos being caught. Speaking of jumbos, there has been a great bite happening east of Warrnambool which the dedicated few have really taken advantage of. Numerous fish over the magic 100kg size have been caught and many more have won their battle. Lures such as the JB Dingo, Bonze Exocet and Jaks Zeus have all accounted for fish so far and have been doing so for years. The area being fished is a long way from any port, but with a flat day and a good boat the run across is possible. In other saltwater reports, the salmon at Killarney have been great fun for all that have put the effort into them. Casting metal lures and smaller stick baits into the wash zone anglers have been getting rewarded with fish to 3.5kg. A lot of these anglers have been catching 10 or more fish in a session and many more lost in the surf. Over the weekend I ventured across three times and found fish each day, but at times you couldn’t get a lure close to them. Fish Inc Flankers and 40g metals worked best.
Estuaries: the local estuaries have been fishing fairly well especially the Hopkins, which has seen some great perch fishing recently. Anglers such as Shannon O’Brien have been getting stuck into some quality fish to 40cm while casting hard bodies deep into the rock walls. When you’re thinking of doing this a deep diver is the preferred option as the angle of the bib will allow the lure to “crash dive”; which is diving deep, quickly. At this time of year the fish are sitting deeper, meaning you need to get your lure down to them. Heading west, Nelson has seen some excellent mulloway fishing over the last week. Phil and Amanda Pirotta were two anglers who headed west and were rewarded with some nice mulloway. Mark and Xavier Gercovich also got over and they too found some jewies. Bait fishing at night has been the best way to get stuck into a few. Each angler has their own favourite hooks, baits, rigs, spots, tides, moon phases, weather conditions, time; but a well presented fresh pilchard, salmon or mullet bait in the middle stretches of the river at night is the best bet. These fish can take some effort at times, so if you like sleeping or you’re afraid of the dark, you might want to give it a miss. Many of the most successful anglers stay out all night in anticipation.
Freshwater: Lake Purrumbete has been the place to be this week. Tiger trout, brook trout, chinook salmon and brown trout have all be caught; not a bad mix of species! Casting the weedy edges of the lake using 75mm jerkbaits is a very productive method, especially for the larger browns. If you want to try something different, a minnow style soft plastic or OSP 76 Bent Minnow are the usual next picks. Flatline trolling with Tassies has been my best method to pick up some salmon on the last few trips over. These haven’t been big fish, but there’s some really good numbers of them. Redfin can still be caught at this time of year but they do slow down heading into winter in Purrumbete. Lake Bullen Merri has also seen some action this week, and not just fishing! A car ended up in the lake earlier this week, but was retrieved from the water before any fish could claim it as their own. Bullen Merri usually begins to fire up around May-June with some cold weather. I did hear a report and see some photos of some nice chinook salmon and rainbow trout taken landbased; both in the 50cm range. You can catch fish anywhere in this lake; last year we had quite a memorable trip just bait fishing off the pontoon at the boat ramp. Lightly weighted pillies in a burley trail always brings a few chinooks to a Bullen Merri party. Trout season also concludes over the long weekend in a couple of weeks which won’t affect us too much here, as our rivers (Hopkins and Merri) are open year round. Keep in mind all other rivers are closed to trout fishing over the next few months, fisheries officers will be out enforcing these restrictions. Do the right thing and leave the fish be before the season opens back up in September.
Just a note regarding the barrel night which was due to be held here at the Tackle Shack tonight. The event has had to be postponed due to the COVID lockdown here in Victoria. Once things become clearer we will be able to announce a rescheduled date for the event and get it all happening again; just as big as before with talks, food, giveaways, specials and more! Stay tuned.