It may be the start to another new year but we are currently right in the middle of Apollo Bay's prime fishing season. The ocean species are all in full swing with King George whiting, flathead, squid, gummy sharks, snapper and many other species all on offer from boat and shore.
The key to consistent catches has been to target a specific species and once you are happy with your captures of that species, its time to target something different. Here's a quick guide on where to concentrate your efforts this January.
If you are after an easy feed where the whole family can get in on the action then head offshore for 30-40m of water. Assuming that you are fishing (drifting) over a sandy bottom then the flathead shouldn't be too hard to catch.
If snapper fishing is more your style you will need to look for patches of reef in the same depth ranges that the flathead are found. Offshore reefs are few and far between off Apollo Bay with the best options being the Henty Reef, Cape Otway, Point Franklin or Cape Patton. Again drifting is the preferred method but make sure your GPS is ready to add a mark once you catch a fish. This way the same area can be revisited, which often produces more captures of a similar size fish.
Gummy sharks can be found in the sandy channels and holes that break up the reef systems at both Cape Otway and Cape Patton. A 40-60m range is my preferred depth and, if possible, I like to anchor up with some berley attached to the anchor chain.
The key to successful gummy and school shark fishing in these depths is making sure you fish the tide changes. The tide runs very hard around these points and it is really only possible to hold a bait on the bottom once the flow slows in the last and first hour of the tide cycle. I have found that fresh fish fillets of salmon or barracouta cut into strips or fresh squid heads are the prime baits when targeting these bottom dwelling sharks.
The inshore reefs closer to the boat ramp are great options for anglers targeting King George whiting. The Waterfall Reefs, Point Bumbry and Marengo are all good options and, just like for gummy sharks, you are looking to anchor in a sandy channel or hole amongst these reef systems. A light running sinker rig with pipis for bait is all that is needed to catch these hard fighting whiting. If you haven't caught a whiting in the first 15 minutes then try moving to the next sand patch, sometimes it is only a matter of moving a few metres to find the schooling fish.
King George whiting are also an excellent land-based option, with the rocks at the breakwall, Marengo, Grey River and Blanket Bay all offering excellent platforms to fish from. A light surf rod is best for casting long distances and for lifting fish up onto the rocks. Again make sure you are casting onto a sandy bottom near the reef edges and not straight onto hard reef.
The beaches further south, such as Glen Aire, Castle Cove and Johanna, are great after-dark options for gummy sharks and snapper. You will need to wait for very flat conditions but the fishing can be excellent for those that put in the hours. Fresh baits of squid, octopus or salmon fillet will go a long way to seeing you put a bend in your rod.
The river estuaries at Aire and Barham rivers shouldn't be over-looked and are great options for those who are camping on the river bank. Large schools of mullet can be brought around by the use of berley. It’s great fun for the kids as they can usually be seen swirling on the surface and taking your bait just metres from the shore. While the kids are ‘messing around’ it is a good option to put out a prawn or scrubworm in search of a big black bream, which are also a reliable option at this time of year.Reads: 907