Fishing improves again
  |  First Published: April 2011

Dare we say again - But as the river slowly clears itself of all the alluvial soils that have been washed down from our catchment area up near the Grampians, the fishing has dramatically improved.

The river is now has a brownish colour from the tannins from dry leaf and wood matter that lies along the river’s edge. With talk of more rain coming, who knows how long before we see a clear colour back in the river.

The estuary especially around the ‘Poles’ earlier in February fished very well for mulloway, many were under the legal 60cm size but most anglers got a feed of fish to 70cm. Initially lures such as the jointed Rebel Fastracks did the job and as the waters became more saline from the sea’s tidal effect live mullet trolled caught the bigger percentage.

The school hung down near the estuary for a good three weeks giving the local and visiting putt-putt brigade good angling. As in other years the mulloway moved upstream and dispersed throughout the river, I have heard of good catches in Taylor’s Straight, Princess Margaret Rose Caves, McLennan’s Punt and several fish boated up near Battersby Landing.

The higher reaches fished better with baits such as squid, octopus and spew worm fished on the bottom in about 5-6m of water. Interestingly a couple of anglers said the fish didn’t fight that hard until they were near the top fresh layer of water, really putting up a good fight trying to get back down into the salt wedge.

The bream had similar movement to the mulloway, with most reports coming from the estuary early in February, and then they also migrated upstream. Good bags of bream to 43cm were not uncommon: crab the best bait. I saw great bags from Fred Wilson, Mal and Al Campbell, Wayne Stephenson, Al Unwin, Ian Netherway, Mal Barko and Ian Anderson. A few very experienced anglers did catch big fish up around Sandy Waterholes when the river was at its dirtiest. Muddies caught in homemade shrimp style pots were the killer bait.

The lure flickers had success upstream as well with Vibe style lures and plastics such as the Berkley Gulp Cammo worm. One angler told me the bream were in clusters, hanging in about 4-6m of water; relying on his fish finder to target the spots he saw on the screen.

Perch have been awesome during March; again the estuary earlier on the hotspot with good fish to 45 cm caught. Lures such as Vibes and Eco SX 40 and 48 accounted for most. I had success with my old mate the jointed Rebels, catching six nice perch to 42cm trolling between the Nelson Endeavour and the old Slipway.

Craig Muir also caught perch on the same lure up in Taylors Straight. The best bait for perch was small yabbies, gudgeon and muddies. They too should migrate back up river over the next few months. It’s great to hear of good perch catches and better to hear of a lot of fish being released.

On the coast

Along the coast snapper have been the main catch. Fishing just off weed and kelp beds with pilchard and squid had most boats a feed. The Woorndoo mob that come down for their annual holiday fished the same kelp bed in 1.2m of water in Racecourse Bay for the whole fortnight with snapper to 65 cm. The bonus being the cray pots they pulled daily just 200m away.

Plenty of fish for the freezer for the slow-talking grain-growing cockies.

There are plenty of sharks as well right along the coast. Tuna reports are just coming in but nothing firm as yet.

Livingstons, Bungalow and Gerloff bays are all spectacular fisheries with masses of reef with sandy areas in between. Study the channels and be wary of prop damage, but a better whiting and garfish spot you will not find. Bucks Bay where the local professional cray boats moor is a very sheltered spot to fish and further around on the right sea, Red Rock and Lighthouse bays fish very well for shark, sweep, whiting, snapper, salmon and flathead. This area needs respect as the sea can get big. Only 40 minutes from Nelson it is well worth a day trip.

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