Winners are grinners
  |  First Published: February 2008

Flat seas, warm weather and plenty of fish have had holiday anglers leaving Apollo Bay with a big grin this year. High on their list of targets were King George whiting, and with the great fighting abilities and awesome eating qualities of these fish I can understand why they are so popular.

Anglers fishing out the back of the golf course, Marengo and the Waterfall Reefs have caught good numbers of whiting to 48cm on pipis. The use of berley made from bread, pellets and tuna oil will get the whiting fired up and keep them around your boat for a longer period of time. Light lines of 3kg and a small running sinker are the best way to rig up for King George, and any soft bait such as pipis, squid or mussels will do the trick.

Large numbers of flathead have been landed from 40m of water right along the coast, and they will eat just about any bait you send to the bottom. Make sure you know all the size and bag limits before heading out.

The Cape Otway Lighthouse area continues to produce the best run of gummy sharks I can ever recall. Fishing on the slack water periods of the tide with fresh squid bait has been very productive. I have landed bags of 6, 8 and 6 gummies the last three times I have been down in that area. Remember that there is a bag limit of two gummies per angler, but this area also produces some big snapper and is worth fishing until the tide starts running too hard for your bait to hold the bottom.

Anglers fishing out in 70m have been seeing plenty of blue sharks and the occasional mako swimming up their berley trails. Fresh arrow squid can be caught out in this depth by leaving baits or jigs suspended mid-water. These make great bait for the sharks. If the sharks are playing hard to get, downsize your bait and hooks and they should grab it without hesitation. I have found that they sometimes refuse a whole squid but will happily grab a single squid tentacle or pilchard.

The river estuaries have been producing plenty of bream on both soft plastics and baits fished close to the bank. The Aire and Barham rivers fish best when the mouth of the river has just opened to the sea. As the river levels drop, the shrimp and small baitfish get flushed out of the grass and back into the main river. This gives the bream an easy feed along the banks, making it the best place to concentrate your angling efforts. This same rule applies to the trout living in the upper estuaries, and lures cast and retrieved parallel to the bank should bring some good results – but keep an open eye for snakes at this time of year.

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