Challenging fishing continues
  |  First Published: June 2013

Last month’s report contained a fair amount of doom and gloom in the fishing department and unfortunately it continues.

The fish kill that occurred in the Gellibrand River was on a much greater scale than initially reported. Many thousands of fish including bream, estuary perch and sea run brown trout were lost. This picturesque river’s diverse fish population will take a long time to recover while some anglers continue to fish here. Possibly they are from out of town and not realising just what has exactly occurred here.

Not all fish have been lost and the exact numbers lost will probably never know however those planning to wet a line here sometime in the future please practice catch and release just so what bigger breeders that are left in the system can have the opportunity to procreate.

The bad news unfortunately does not end there. The Curdies Estuary or more precisely, the Peterborough Lake suffered yet another fish kill. Just prior to writing an extremely windy day stirred up the sediments in this shallow lake clogging the gills of all fish that were residing there. I have reports of thousands of bream, mullet and salmon being literally choked to death.

Again anglers continue to fish here especially in the river (which was not affected) and fish (mostly bream) continue to be caught. Again I stress to all and sundry to practice catch and release as this is so vital in the rebuilding of stock in the coming years.

Once again the large bream continue to elude anglers in the Hopkins River.

I have more reports of anglers and divers sighting large schools in nearby Lady Bay. The river is full with the mouth being closed for some time now but by the time this goes to press the mouth would have been opened giving the estuary a decent flush and hopefully coaxing the big, blue nose bream back into the system where they belong.

Just the other day I took an exploratory walk with rod in hand along the bank side verges of the upper reaches. Concentrating my efforts in an area known as Tooram Stones (a shallow reef mostly impassable to boats). In search of an estuary perch or two I had many follows from bream. The fish were mostly on the small side but I did polarize an absolute thumper or two inquisitively following my offering. So a certain amount of big bream could be residing upstream in the fresh as well perhaps?

I recently fished a FishCare-organised friendly tournament in which 24 anglers participated. Possibly over 200 bream were caught but only seven legal sized were weighed in (prior to release) with the biggest barely topping 500g!

On the upside the southern bluefin tuna scene continues to attract boaters far and wide with schools of fish currently being sighted out on the edge of the continental shelf in depths of 700m. Many fish are only averaging between 18-32kg but the bigger ones are now turning up with a barrel weighing in at 138kg being landed recently.

The tuna scoffed a pink marlin skirt trolled along the surface. Other large specimens boated have pulled the scales down anywhere between 50-95kg. Currently the bycatch (or bonus) to the bluefin are albacore. Many of these fish are topping 30kg where in the past they only averaged around 12kg and there definitely seems to be more of them about going on the capture rate.

In a nutshell our local estuaries are in dire straits and heavy, solid rain is needed now. Not only to clean out and freshen up the systems but to give our fish an ongoing chance at just surviving.

One of only seven legal bream caught in the FishCare tournament recently held on the Hopkins.

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