Who can believe that another year is almost done and dusted? For me it feels like I was just writing about what to expect in February and now it’s December!
I suppose the upside to all of this is that summer is just beginning which means plenty of daylight for fishing and in hot weather to boot.
What to expect around Apollo Bay? December will see the flathead move back along the coast and these can be easily caught from 30-45m over any sandy bottom structure. Tough baits such as squid or fish fillets with the skin left on are my favourites as this means multiple captures can be made on a single bait.
Flathead are brilliant eating as are King George whiting which are already being taken from the inshore reefs around Blanket Bay, Kennett River and Marengo. Bags of six or so fish have been regular but the school sizes should get thicker in numbers as the new year approaches.
Fishing around the edges of the shallow reefs with any soft baits such as pipi, mussel or fresh squid tentacle is the best for this large species of whiting. Calamari squid are the other big attraction at this time of year and are a real winner for anyone fishing from the local Pier. Small 2.5-sized prawn style squid jigs are best when fished early morning or late afternoon over the sea grass beds.
Snapper are being taken from Cape Patton in 40m of water on pilchard or fresh barracouta baits. Drifting around the reef edges in this depth has been very effective. Anglers fishing off Cape Otway can expect to encounter good numbers of gummy sharks especially when fishing around the turn of the tide. These bottom dwelling sharks can reach sizes in excess of 20kg but 6kg tends to be the average weight in this area.
The estuary systems of the Barham and Aire rivers are producing good numbers of bream on prawn and worm baits as are small metal vibe lures. Fishing the incoming tide when the river mouth is open to the sea has been the most productive time to land a few fish. Small boats or kayaks can be launched at the Aire River and this will help you navigate the river to find where the bream are hiding.
As you travel along the river watch the sounder for fish holding close to the bottom, if you locate a school of bream then tie off to the bank and cast in a bait or toss around a vibe style lure. Using a vibe is simple and very effective, first let it sink to the bottom then give it a couple of quick hops before letting it rest on the bottom again for a few seconds, then keep repeating this process over and over.
Brown trout are another option further upstream in the Aire River. Baits such as scrub worms or mudeye are popular as is casting small floating hardbodied lures around the fallen timber. If you are camping down Aire River/Cape Otway area this summer then don’t forget the surf rods as the beaches always produce good numbers of salmon, snapper and gummy sharks at this time of year. The salmon will bite all day but snapper and gummies are best targeted after dark. Johanna, Castle Cove and Glen Aire beaches are all excellent options.
Dean Candy with an average size gummy shark caught off Cape Otway.Reads: 622