Only soft anglers don’t fish over winter! The salmon are pumping, squid are keen and you can always find a bream in an estuary on the Surf Coast!
Ross Winstanley fished out off Clifton Springs where he caught 10 good-sized calamari to 800g and returned six to eight smaller models. Ross made special mention of the return of seagrass off Curlewis. Ross studies the environment and fisheries deeply. I asked him what he thought contributed to its return and he replied.
“History shows that, in the more healthy parts of the bay, seagrass beds come and go of their own accord - that's been my observation in this southern Geelong Arm area and I know it happens in Swan Bay, Rye, Rosebud and so on.
“Also, there's a seasonal pattern that normally sees seagrass beds in prime condition at this time of year after which we might see some loss as winter storms bust off grass that's stopped growing (due to cold temps) and is weighed down with epiphytes.
“If I look at the satellite photo of the grass off the waterfront properties immediately west of Hermsley Road on nearmap.com (taken 25 January 2012) and older photo on Google maps there are clear differences.
“In Stingaree Bay, there's currently a lot more heavy seagrass in areas that were just light patchy grass when you and I fished close to Alcoa a few years back.”
Very interesting insight Ross – thanks!
Snotty trevally (blue warehou) come into Corio Bay over winter and are great fish to catch. They often arrive en-masse in a fair school and take baits as they move along a pier. Cunningham Pier is one of the more popular spots to target them. Try to line up a high tide running off right on dawn – and don’t forget your beanie!
Bird Rock and the area immediately offshore from Mountain View Quarries have been fishing well for King George whiting. These are not big fish but there has been a few kicking about.
Anglers fishing from the rock wall at St Helens have done okay with a few snapper and flathead captures after dark. This is a great cold weather spot because you can kick back in your car with a hot drink with the rods nice and close.
Rod Ludlow from Beachlea Boat Hire at Indented Head reports that there was plenty happening over the past month with squid on the bite between Portarlington and St Leonards on the grass and reef areas. They are also on the reef areas out further before the deep water on the Prince George Bank. Rod says that it is best early or late in the day but overcast days are also well worth a look.
Rod says that last month he still had a few boats bag out on whiting, which appear to be coming on strong with some fish up to 45cm and very fat. Of course the run-in tides are best and fish have been spread between St Leonards and right through to the Portarlington pier. These are being taken in close with dusk probably the best time. Rod also notes that fresh squid, mussels and pipis have been the best bait.
From Grassy Point around to Indented Head boat ramp, anglers have enjoyed good deep water drifting for flathead. Some of these have been up to 55cm so definitely worth a look.
Soft plastic enthusiasts fishing the Queenscliff Boat harbour have done very well on the silver trevally. There has been some fish over 45cm landed by anglers fishing out of the main current using pumpkin green Turtle Back worms.
Ken Stevens from Barwon Heads Angling Club says there were plenty of fish biting over the last month. Offshore has been fantastic with snapper and gummy sharks to 23kg coming in. Inside the estuary, the silver trevally have been around with big fish, but not caught in large numbers.
At this time of year, keep an eye out for schools of Australian salmon in the Barwon estuary. These fish can be either side of 1kg in weight and are fantastic fun on light spin or fly gear. Try top water lures for visual fun or almost anything that looks like a bait fish.
Torquay can have a good run of King George whiting this time of year. Pick yourself a calm day and find some patches of sand and reef to get the best chance. They do bite after dusk and into the night if you have clothing warm enough!
Winter is salmon time along the Surf Coast. It’s colder than the other side of the pillow so thermal underwear and neoprene waders are all the go. Jan Juc had a nice run of Australian salmon there a few weeks back. Glenn Frost and his mates coaxed a few out of the water using squid for bait. A great fish too at 2.5kg!
Other beaches to try include Thirteenth Beach, Bancoora, Point Roadknight, Hutt Gully, Fairhaven and Eastern View. There are plenty of rock platforms along the Great Ocean Road where you can spin in relatively deep water. Make sure you avoid days when there is big swell as this can be dangerous.
Lorne Pier is well worth a shot this time of year for silver trevally, calamari and Australian salmon. The rock platforms that lead from the pier into town are a good starting point for those looking to spin up a couple of salmon.Reads: 1193