The final leg of winter can be a tough period to keep up the motivation, but it doesn’t take much to get the juices flowing again.
Recently, I spent some time chasing garfish with a group of keen young anglers from Lara Secondary College and we had an absolute blast! Watching our floats bobbing around and regularly dipping under the surface soon became mesmerising. At this time of year, it generally doesn’t matter what you’re catching or how big they are, as long as there’s a bend in the rod, you tend to return home content.
This month, when the bay becomes too rough for comfortable boating, perhaps consider a spot of back to basics land-based fishing instead. Garfish have been in huge numbers along the western flank of the bay so far this winter and August should be no exception. Many of the local jetties and rock platforms, from Beaumaris through to Altona, have been producing of late. Garfish have also been prevalent within the sheltered waters of Corio Bay where there is always somewhere to set up with the wind at your back.
The key to snaring a few gars is the careful and consistent use of berley. A simple breadcrumb based mixture, combined with a nip of tuna oil, a few handfuls of maggots and some finely chopped pilchards form the basis of a berley suitable for attracting garfish. Gradually add enough water to create a consistency that binds together relatively easily when squeezed in the palm of your hand, but breaks up as soon as it makes contact with the water. The aim is to draw fish into an area and create a situation where they compete with one another for a feed.
Start the session with 3-4 golf ball size portions, followed by another every second or third cast. Try to establish a routine to keep a little berley going in on a regular basis, but don’t overdo it.
The combination of a few maggots neatly pinned to a size 14 chemically sharpened hook presented 1-2m under a thin pencil style float is a deadly method. Small pieces of silverfish, pipi and raw chicken are also worth a try, but in my opinion, maggots are a clear winner. When a float is rigged correctly, only a few centimetres of the tip should be visible above the surface. As a fish takes the bait, the only resistance felt is that caused by the tip dipping below the water. This provides a degree of sensitivity that is impossible to replicate with a cork, polystyrene or plastic bubble style float.
To give yourself the best chance of success, use light line! There is no real need to go any heavier than say 4lb monofilament mainline and you could even get away with a short 2-3lb fluorocarbon leader. The lighter you go when using small baits, such as maggots, the more natural the presentation and this generally leads to more hook ups.
In terms of tackle, try to keep things simple when chasing gars, but remember light lines, small hooks, sensitive floats and the careful use of berley can substantially increase your catch rate. Depending on the location, other species such as bream, mullet, juvenile salmon, snotty trevally (warehou), silver trevally and leather jackets respond well to similar techniques.
In terms of local reports, it’s been a little quiet in the west, but some quality southern blue spot flathead, also known as yank flathead, have been congregating along the inshore reefs at Altona, Black Rock and Beaumaris. Soft plastics and cut pilchards have accounted for some solid specimens up to 60cm and that’s not bad going for winter!
Colin Kneebone continues to brave the cold, opting to fish the shallow inshore reefs at Williamstown from his canoe whenever conditions permit. Heading out of an evening, pinkie snapper to 48cm have made up the bulk of his catch. Drifting baits of pipi, pilchards and frozen prawn down a berley trail consisting of mashed bread and various fish frames proved effective in the shallows. Just the odd King George whiting to 36cm have made an appearance over the past month.
Bruce Hale from Brighton Central Angling Club landed a ripping 11.2kg jewie during a recent club meet on the Werribee River. The magnificent fish was taken on a live Bass yabby intended for bream. According to Bruce, it took 35 minutes to land the beast on just 6lb line!
Some good bream either side of 1kg have been taken from the pines through to the island. Again, quality live baits including tube worms and Bass yabbies have been the standout. Worm pattern soft plastics and small diving minnows have also accounted for the odd bream up around the K-Road cliffs and the edges of the barnacle hole.
• If you would like to see your name and/or photograph published, please forward reports and images to --e-mail address hidden-- You’re certainly not obliged to give away your secret spot, but a please include a general description of when, where, the technique and bait used, and who caught the fish.Reads: 1218