February is the peak time for many summer species, in particularly the larger game fish like mako sharks and yellowtail kingfish. Some good specimens of these fish have already shown up in early summer, so hopefully this is a pointer to some excellent angling once the warm calm February days arrive.
Big makos have already been brought into port. The crew on Airborne took a 133kg, Kevin McLoughlin caught a 94kg one, and an even bigger mako was let go when a crew sensibly assessed it was going to be too big to get home given the distance back to port and the prevailing conditions.
Kingfish have also shown up with the first burst of real summer weather. Scott Gray managed a magnificent 120cm fish to get the king fishing season rolling. Most of the other early season reports have been of far smaller rat-sized kings, but they have been taken, or seen, in a number of normally productive areas, which all bodes well for February.
A few southern bluefin were also kicking around this time last year so any big bust-ups you see is always worth investigating.
But it has not been all about big fish, there are plenty of other options available for anglers. Cray divers in particular have been experiencing some great action with the recent lack of swell making for excellent underwater clarity in many well-known dive locations. Christmas crayfish dinners were commonplace with all the big ‘face huggers’ being fished out.
Whiting anglers, however, have found the going a little tough early in the season but these fish should provide some good sport during those warm February evenings.
The Hopkins River has continued to improve and is a very productive location of late. Plenty of smaller bream from legal-size to around 34cm have been prolific for bait and lure anglers, however it has been good to see some decent kilo-plus blue noses, which were absent for a time, reappearing.
Corey McLaren and Colin Hurtford both managed 1.4kg+ bream in the same week. I even managed a 44cm fish, which is the best bream I’ve got from the river for a while.
Perch have also been around with some good sport to be had on smaller fish using surface lures on calm evenings. Mick Wilkinson caught some quality perch up to 1.5kg one evening in the deeper water.
Perhaps the most interesting thing has been the continued presence of mulloway in the system. Most of these fish have been in the 50-55cm bracket, which makes them well under the 60cm size limit. However they do provide an interesting bit of variety to your estuary excursions and there have been a smattering of better fish between 60-70cm as well as the ever present story of bigger fish that have got away.
The Shipwreck Coast Fishing Classic is the annual fishing competition run by the Warrnambool Offshore & Light Game Fishing Club. In 2014, the classic will run from March 1-10, culminating on the long weekend. There will be two boat package major prizes so get along and be part of the action.Reads: 550