The annual run of bluefin tuna in South West Victoria is finally here and it’s got anglers in a buzz to tangle with a true beast of the sea. Along with these huge tuna there is still some great fishing to be had inshore in the rivers and lakes.

 

Saltwater: before last weekend all the action was West of Portland around the Port MacDonnell area but a slightly warmer current seems to have brought some fish closer to home for us. The first known big fish from our immediate waters was landed over the weekend aboard Salty Dog Charters Port Fairy by a very happy customer. After a short battle they had an estimated 70-80kg bluefin next to the boat. This fish took a Bonze D Shackle in Electric Salmon colour trolled through a bait ball and was crunched. From all reports the fish including school fish are hunting down big baits such as Sauries and Pilchards and are fairly tough to keep up with. My advice would be to find the bait and concentrate your efforts around that area so unfortunately this will mean a lot of blind trolling with no top water action but that’s what is needed to hook a few lately. Don’t be afraid to step up your lure size as the natural bait is fairly big anyway. Don’t get sucked into just running skirts either as a deep or mid running diver will get their fair share of fish also. Samaki Pacemakers in 180DD especially in the Blue Pink Silver and Slimey colours will be worth a crack. We have just received a new batch of the Bonze skirts which accounted for a lot of big fish last year and previous years as well as the Bonze spreader bars which are a must for all anglers targeting any size tuna. These spreader bars make fish come to your spread of lures even when they are sitting deep on bait balls and can make a tough day a successful one. The 60m mark seems to be the most productive area to begin looking as there is a lot of bait and even some whales in this depth so a sharp eye is needed to avoid a disaster. Something else to consider is making sure your boat is ready to launch when it’s your turn at the ramp cause if it’s not and you hold someone else up there’s a fair chance you’ll get told. Here’s some simple tips to avoid a bust up at the ramp. First of all try and have your rods set up where you want them before you get to the ramp. Whether this is in the rocket launchers or a set of combing racks on the inside of your gunwale it will great improve your time putting in and more time on the water. Probably one of the most frustrating things for anglers at a ramp is the guy who sits in his nice warm car until it’s his turn to launch and then rushes around the boat taking straps and engine supports off which just annoys everyone so make sure they are done prior to your turn. Another is the bungs which is a timely thing to do and will slow down everyone so put them in before you leave home. The other thing is have one person in the boat when reversing down the ramp who can drive the boat and another in the car who can reverse a trailer and be ready to pull the trailer out and keep the line moving. Once you’ve launched the boat you must clear the ramp area to allow other users a clear passage off the ramp. Don’t be that angler who hovers around the back of the ramp and causes someone to bump into another boat cause you didn’t leave them some room. Last but certainly not least is if you see someone trying to launch a boat by themselves or with someone who isn’t experienced then lend them a hand. It might only be 10 minutes out of your day but it will leave them not stressed and able to enjoy their day more.

 

Estuaries: the Hopkins River has slowed this week due to the mouth being closed and no flow which hasn’t been the case for so long now. We were lucky to have an open mouth for much of the summer but the huge swells lately have put a stop to that. With this comes the rule of thumb that early mornings and late afternoons are the key bite times. My theory is that this is due to the changing light and the ability for the fish to hunt easily without being seen. The areas that have produced recently has been the Rowans Lane flats, Hen and chickens reef and the Deakin flats. All these areas are great for casting lures, soft plastics and the stand out baits such as crab, scrub worms and the humble prawn. If you’re using baits you need to fish as light as physically possible on that given day. They are starting to become pretty finicky and will only get worse coming into winter. In other news the Glenelg River is full of Mulloway at the moment but they aren’t all playing the game for those putting in the time on them. The odd nice fish have been landed on live mullet and cut baits along Taylors Straight, Dry Creek and up around Sapling Creek areas.

 

Freshwater: the Merri River has been producing some excellent trout fishing this week. Phil and Amanda Pirotta have been catching some great fish over 4lb after work in a couple of hours which just shows how well the river is fishing. The water has dirtied after the rain recently which should only improve the fishing further especially once the water starts running properly. Jessica Lane caught a ripper 63cm trout also in the Merri this week while fishing with Lewis Holland casting hard bodies from the bank.

 

Just a note also sent in from Rodney Blake regarding the Ocean Onyx Rig that is currently 30nm South of Port Campbell and that there is an Aus Coast warning in place which advises 2.5nm clearance at all times for all vessels. There is also a 500m exclusion zone so don’t be tempted to go up and have a look as there is huge fines in place for any operator not adhering to these. Rod also mentioned that they had some very large bluefin tuna swimming around their boat feeding on the bait that gets drawn to the rigs. So if you are heading that way please keep your distance and stay well away from these working vessels.

 

This weekend looks like a winner so I’d expect some quality captures coming in from all over our district. Until next week tight lines and best of luck.