The tuna season is well and truly into gear with a number of crews making their departures from Warrnambool and Port Fairy.
At the time of writing virtually all the tuna action has been near or beyond the shelf. Most fish have been in the 16-28kg bracket with no big fish landed locally as yet. Most fish have been taken blind trolling with both skirts and hardbodied lures doing the damage.
There have also been plenty of albacore landed so far this season. This is probably a reflection of anglers having to go wider this season in search of bluefin, thus bringing them into contact with the albacore. These fine eating fish have a definite preference for the deeper water in the shelf region.
Come June hopefully the schools of SBT will have moved closer in thus negating the big fuel bills of shelf trips. On the subject of game species, a few thresher sharks were taken off Warrnambool in April including one by Adrian from Richardson Marine which was a particularly meritorious capture out of a small tinny.
The Hopkins River was manually opened to the sea in mid-April and anglers are hopeful that this may spark the river into action. In have heard a couple of reports of bigger bream in the 40cm range but fish like this have been the exception. There still appears a proliferation of smaller bream throughout the system. A recent Fishcare catch and release competition, to honour the tireless work of Henry Rantall, produced few fish with the largest being a 580g bream.
A few bream are being taken by both bait and lure anglers in the Merri River. Come June though the focus in this river will be the trout fishing. Brown trout can continue to be an option all winter with the sea run classification that allows trout fishing during the closed season below Bromfield St Weir. How you target these trout will depend what happens with the significance of any rain events between now and then. Little rain and fishing natural coloured minnow style plastics and smelt coloured flies in the deeper areas will work best. Trolling minnow styled lures also will work well.
If we get some serious rains then fishing shallow runs and flooded margins will be a better bet. Paddle tailed soft plastics and dark large wet flies are the weapons of choice.
Winter is also the time to break out the surf gear and chase the Australian salmon. East Beach at Port Fairy and Levis Beach at Warrnambool are two well known and reliable locations at this time of year for more traditional style surf fishing with 12ft surf rods.
Killarney beach is more popular for those who like to throw lures on lighter spin gear.Reads: 1250