April turns on the whiting
  |  First Published: April 2012

The Barwon River copped another month of fair rainfall delivering a much needed flush out.

Late February saw a heavy blue-green algae bloom and thankfully the rain reduced this somewhat. Big rains flush food into the system and the estuary fish in Barwon Heads also come on the bite.

April can be great for redfin in the Barwon River, and providing it stays reasonably clear, the lure fishing can be great. Try up around Queens Park and Buckleys Falls. A decent redfin here will hit 40cm but there can be a few around the 200-400g that can be a menace. Big carp can be great fun and are willing to take worms and sweet corn fish on the bottom.

Just about anywhere in the Barwon will give you a shot at carp as well as McLeods Waterhole in Clifton Springs. Mick Allardyce from High Tide Constructions in Winchelsea says the Barwon River had big schools of carp milling around the surface. Prime fly targets!

Corio Bay

April is whiting time in Corio Bay. Expect their sizes and numbers increase as the mornings get cooler. Try inside Stingaree Bay just off Limeburners Boat ramp, Point Henry sand spit and Curlewis. First light is best by a long shot so throw a beanie on and get amongst them.

Ross Winstanley practically lives in Stingaree Bay and his captures so far have included flathead to 45cm, pinkie snapper to 38cm and King George whiting. He also notes that there has been heaps of garfish hanging around his berley pot each session. I fished with work colleague Peter Mohr inside Corio Bay one windy morning. We hugged the south shore and fished with soft plastics near the Royal Geelong Yacht Club where we caught a few flatties up to 50cm.

Further east off the golf club, we caught a couple of small pinkies with the best plastic being the Berkley Gulp in Nuclear Chicken. Good schools of Australian salmon have been mooching around Corio Bay with most fish either side of 1kg. These fish can be a little hard to locate with no birds working on them so try trolling near Alcoa Pier and Point Wilson.

Clifton Springs and Portarlington

With the whiting moving in, they snapper reports have tapered a bit. Anglers fishing the deeper water over 10m have been rewarded with snapper to 4.5kg on the outgoing tide. Calamari have been busy early in the mornings near Grassy Point and the grass beds just west of the Clifton Springs boat ramp.

St Leonards to Queenscliff

Queenscliff has been pumping for whiting with bag limit captures available for anglers who are well prepared. Best spots to try include the Lonsdale Bight, just north of the ferry dock to the entrance of Swan Bay.

Speaking of Swan Bay, there has been some great flathead to 2kg coming to those who bait. Yep, floating dead baits over the shallow weed beds just on dusk has yielded some quality fish. Gummy sharks are always an option inside Swan Bay and are best targeted after dark. Whole pilchards will bring them undone and be prepared to feed a few banjo sharks before a big grey one grabs the bait.

The Queenscliff boat harbour has been fishing well for silver trevally, small salmon and the odd pinkie snapper. Soft plastic lures have been best but bait anglers fishing with pilchard fillets have also taken quality trevally to 1kg. Top of the tide has been best but dead low has been ok as well.

Yellowtail kingfish have been caught right inside the rip which is great news. Most have been either side of 2kg but the odd fish has been over 10kg and you really need good gear to cope with kings of this size. Australian salmon have also been working hard inside the rip, the Lonsdale Bight and right up the south channel. They can be easily spotted when birds are working the schools.

Barwon Heads and Surf Coast

Ken Stevens from Barwon Heads Angling Club says the kingfish have been busy offshore with a couple coming over 15kg. It’s been a while since we’ve seen big kings around here so let’s hope they hang around for years to come.

April can see some absolute monster King George whiting move into the shallows from Barwon Heads and the Surf Coast. These fish have cracked the magical half metre which is a fish well over 1.3kg or 3lb in the old scale. In fact, this time last year I received a report of a 60cm fish (yep, saw the photo against a ruler!) that weighed in at 1.89kg!

You never seem to get big bags of these fish so think yourself fortunate if you bag six in a sitting with one to three being the norm.

Keen anglers should use pilchard fillets, Bass yabbies, fresh squid or pipis and hunt around the shallow reef areas when the swell is low. They go like droppings off a spade so spool up with at least 5kg braid and a rod to match. If the swell picks up, you can still fish inside the mouth of the Barwon River with relative safety and find a few fish although they can be smaller. Outgoing tide on dusk or dawn has been best for me in the past.

Mick Allardyce fished from the beach at Aireys Inlet where he noticed a massive bait ball around 400m offshore. Mick says there were seals, salmon and some much larger fish giving the bait what for. Mick was unsure what the larger fish were but suggested they were either kingfish or striped tuna.

The estuaries along the Surf Coast have been fishing well with some solid bream to 40cm coming out of them. Bear in mind that these are small river systems and taking any number of larger fish out of them can knock the population a bit so catch and release is best practice here.

Catch a few around Geelong, Bellarine Peninsula or Surf Coast to Lorne recently? Send in a report to --e-mail address hidden-- with “VFM” in the subject field or give me a call on 0408 997348. Please include where (without giving away your secret spot!), when, what on and who caught the fish. Pictures are always great, but please make sure they are at least 1mb (file size).

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