This past weekend has seen a mixture of reports but it was the offshore fishing that really held strong. The shark fishing is excellent still with some brilliant captures along our coast.
Saltwater: As previously mentioned, the gummy and school shark fishing has been nothing short of exceptional with no end in sight. Sam Powell had a day to remember fishing solo out of Warrnambool landing 11 gummy sharks and dropping 3 school sharks. Sam was pretty worn out by the time he got home, after a wild session with double hook ups. This isn’t an uncommon occurrence for this time of year when targeting sharks, and this kind of action is accessible to anyone. Berleying the bottom was the key for Sam, as it led the shark straights to his waiting baits on the bottom. We hear a lot of people coming into the shop saying they only berley the top of the water column, but this is near on useless as your baits are on the bottom and a long way from your berley. Unfortunately you do lose the occasional one due to the seven gill population, however the catch rates of bottom dwelling sharks (gummy/school) are far greater. Another issue with berleying the surface is that you will bring in the undesirables such as barracouta take will your baits and berley before they get to the sweet spot on the bottom. Snapper are beginning to show up in the same areas as the sharks, with some nice 2-3kg models already being caught. Fishing Black Magic Snapper Snacks in Super Lumo colour with a 5/0 hook is the go to for most snapper anglers down here now. The hooks are super sharp and have a rust resistant coating on them. Just remember to not strike, and let the hook work its way into the corner of the jaw in the rod holder. It’s as simple as leaning back into the rod and applying some force to make sure the hook has worked its way into the corner of the jaw. In other saltwater news the salmon have finally turned it on with huge schools being targeted at Port Fairy on both fly and spin tackle. Tim Vincent landed some small fish but mentioned that the bigger models were out that bit too far to cast too. After a few days of stronger winds this week, there’s a good chance the fish may have moved in close; or moved to a new area altogether. Using metal lures in a 40-60g size range will give you the best casting range to be able to cover more ground quickly.
I haven’t heard too much on the estuary side of things this week, so I thought I would just give you a run down on how I go about winter time in the Hopkins and other local estuaries. Firstly, use your fish finder to find the schools of fish that will congregate at this time of year in preparation for their spawning run. Once I have found these fish and the depth they are holding in then I would find the closest bank and start working that. What I find is the fish on the edge or in the shallow water are there for one reason and that is to feed, so they are typically easier to catch then the deeper fish. If this doesn’t work then I will move out to the previously found schools and work those with heavier weighted soft plastics and metal blades. My favourite blade for this time of year is the same as most the Ecogear VX35 in colour 445. This lure is a black blade with an orange belly and some small faint orange dots on the side. I don’t know if the fish think they are shells or crabs but they certainly love them. When working these lures I don’t like to do long draws, as my theory is keep it in their face for longer, so a short hop is all that’s required. Fishing with a softer rod this allows me to lift into a lot of fish without pulling the hooks out of them. Whilst this technique was mainly started for winter bream, it will certainly work deadly on the local EP population.
Freshwater: the trout are in full swing down in the South West, with some great captures already being had this season. The lakes of Bullen Merri and Purrumbete have been the hot spot with both lakes producing some incredible fishing opportunities recently. Both land based and boating options are available at Bullen Merri, however most anglers are fishing land based. The ramp at Bullen Merri has long been plagued with issues, so has been closed for a number of months whilst repairs are being made. A makeshift ramp on the beach is able to be used, although 4WD is needed and is not suitable for large boats. Walking the edges with both fly and hard bodies has been producing some excellent tiger trout to 6lb and some nice rainbows too. The chinook salmon have been getting caught trolling with downriggers, and bait fishing with pilchard cubes fished deeper from the boats. Max Fahey caught a nice tiger while casting lures from the bank during the week. Lots of redfin are still being caught by anglers fishing live minnows and lures and soft plastics over at Purrumbete. Our local rivers are fishing well for browns also and will only get better once the water really starts to become dirty.
This weekend the weather is looking reasonable for some offshore fishing with northerly winds forecast for Sunday morning, so we should see some more reports come through. Tight lines and best of luck!