Although we may wish otherwise, the good weather can’t last forever! This week we’ve seen wind, rain and chilly temperatures return to the south-west, which has meant many local and visiting anglers stayed indoors instead of hitting the water.
When the weather behaves the way it has this week, most boats generally stay in the garage and the offshore fishing scene becomes quiet. Nonetheless, there was still a few windows for anglers to hit the water. A few boats headed out off Warrnambool on Monday evening, bringing back a few pinkies and gummies. Last Friday was also surprisingly calm offshore, despite heavy rains and storms on the land. Ed Richardson, Matt Cook and Tom Fox from our workshop at Richardson Marine headed out to the shelf from Warrnambool and had a fantastic session on hapuka. The boys also reported a pesky mako shark hanging underneath the boat, which snatched quite a few of their prized fish just as they were about to reach the surface. This mako also wouldn’t take any baits thrown in its direction, but had no hesitations taking live fish off the line! Closer inshore, salmon and tuna have been making their presence known along the inshore grounds at Port Fairy. The salmon have been spread right through the bay across to Killarney. When they’re schooled up on the surface, as they currently are, salmon schools can appear very similar to a school of tuna. They’re generally a little less flighty, and easier to catch, than the tuna however. A 7′-7’6 rod, with 20lb braid on a 4000 reel will allow you to have fun catching these mid-sized inshore salmon, whilst still having a good chance of landing a tuna if one does pop up. 20-40g metal lures and 100mm stickbaits will be your best bets lure wise. Richard Beggs and Scott Gray have also been having fun fly fishing for these fish recently; certainly quite a sporting way to catch salmon. The same areas have been holding tuna schools, and although these fish can move out of an area quite quickly, there have been many reports this week reasonably close to shore. Small skirts under 4″ in natural clear colours, and sub 120mm stickbaits have been the weapons of choice.
The fishing in the Hopkins River has been starting to fire this week. Typically January can offer some great fishing, although crowds of anglers, skiiers and swimmers in the river can make the fish quite flighty and difficult to catch. As we move into February and the crowds disperse, we should see the fish become more willing to feed and become easier to catch. Brad Hann has reported some fantastic fishing along the Hopkins foreshore after dark. If you’re willing to stay out a little later than the average angler, good fishing is often promised in the Hopkins. I’ve often found lightly weighted (and scented) soft plastics, and shallow running hardbodies fished slowly to be good fish producers at night. Mick Mahney has also found plenty of bream in the lower sections towards the mouth. Whether you’re fishing landbased or in a boat, most of the fish lately have been taken off the edges so there’s little need to fish too deep. Keep your sinker and jighead weights as light as possible to ensure success.
In the freshwater, reports have been quieter however there’s still plenty of redfin to be caught in the local lakes. Purrumbete has been the biggest producer of fish, but Rocklands, Fyans, and Elingamite have allĀ  fished well for the English perch too. For those looking to fish Elingamite (near Cobden), just be aware of the presence of EHNV within the lake currently. EHNV is a virus affecting redfin and farmed rainbow trout, which although posing no threat to humans, can severely affect fish populations within waerways. There’s no way of removing the virus from a waterway once infected, however we can all do our part to control the spread. EHNV can remain for long periods of time on boats, trailers, motors and fishing equipment, so be sure to properly drain your boat after leaving the lake, and thoroughly clean your equipment once arriving home. We don’t want this to be spreading to other waterways locally. Perhaps it’s time to send some masks, vaccines and tests down for the Lake Elingamite redfin!
We’ve got some rather windy afternoons on the forecast for this week, with mornings being fishable inshore or inland. If you do head out, best of luck!