Early winter is throwing up some calm, fine weather but hopefully by July we will have experienced some serious winter winds and rain. The calm fine weather is great for those still travelling out wide after the tuna and albacore, but most other winter options need a bit of wind and rain to get the fish on the chew.
Most of the gamefishing action is still happening well west of Warrnambool, although a few sightings of fish closer to Port Fairy have been reported just recently.
Things have been fairly quiet on the salmon surf scene but better fish should be around by July. A few bigger seas are needed to move the schools of fish along the coast. If rough conditions do hinder your surf fishing trip, places like the Warrnambool Breakwall and the Moyne River groynes can be worth a try. These spots can be devoid of fish in calm weather but produce when there is a bit of sea running.
The Moyne River itself can be a good winter option. It can fish well on high tides as schools of salmon, silver trevally, yellow-eye mullet and barracouta enter the system and provide some fun. Alternatively, heavy rains can flush the bream population down from the relative safety of the lake to more accessible areas near the town. The Moyne is also open during the normal closed trout season, due to its designation as a sea run trout fishery. It can turn up some good trout at times.
The Hopkins River re-opened to the sea in late May. The fish continue to want to ‘feel the vibe’, and metal vibes are still producing good fish. One morning recently I persisted using normally productive hard-bodied lures to provide some variation to the two mates in the boat with me who were vibing. After an hour of watching them get hit after hit compared to my single fish I stopped the experiment, picked up a vibe rod and landed fish in consecutive casts.
At present bream are being taken the entire length of river, even up in the fresh water: some fish have been taken as far up as 2-3km above Torram Stones. Come July, most fish should be found in the lower reaches between Deakin Uni and the river mouth. Bait anglers are getting best results on cut salmon and mullet.
How you target trout in the Merri River in July will depend on the significance of any rain events between now and then. If there is little rain, fishing natural-coloured stick minnow plastics or smelt-coloured flies in the deeper areas will be the best bet. Trolling minnow-styled lures also will work well. If we get some serious rain then fishing the shallow runs and flooded margins will be a better bet. Paddle-tailed soft plastics and large, dark wet flies are the weapons of choice.
Dan Grixti and Nick Murrell with some Hopkins River vibe victims.Reads: 880