Too quiet on the western bay
  |  First Published: April 2014

Geelong Freshwater

The Barwon River in Geelong hasn’t had a great deal of water into it, via rain, so it has remained quite clear.

Anglers had enjoyed fair to reasonable fishing for redfin from the Shannon Avenue Bridge to Fyansford. Best bite seemed to occur around dusk but you could catch a couple from around mid-afternoon onwards if they were keen.

For bait fishers, the best by far is locally caught gudgeon and minnow. These can be caught in a collapsible bait trap baited with bread and placed near weed.

Lure fishing enthusiasts have done well casting 50mm single-tailed soft plastics parallel to the bankside weed. Diving minnows have also done well as have minnow profiled soft plastics twitched close to the bottom. The carp are always well represented in the Barwon River but will slow down from now until things warm up again around October. They can still be caught right throughout winter but it just gets a little harder.

Corio Bay

King George whiting have been available but not in big numbers. Both sides of Point Henry and either side of the shipping channel have seen a few caught. Most fish have been from legal length to 35cm but there are always larger fish caught at dawn and dusk.

The Geelong waterfront has seen a few silver trevally kicking about Cunningham Pier. A high tide on first light is by far the best. Australian salmon have been working the inner harbour over near Grammar School Lagoon and near the Royal Geelong Yacht Club. Flathead from 30-45cm have been caught by anglers flicking soft plastic lures in 2-4m of water from Limeburners boat ramp to the promenade.

There has been plenty of pinkie snapper stealing baits meant for whiting in the shallows. Most of these pesky nibblers have been undersized, which pretty much means moving is the only answer. Thankfully, there has been some larger fish around the 30-40cm mark biting right on dusk.

Clifton Springs and Portarlington

I had a day out off Clifton Springs recently with Matt Giles. We enjoyed glassed-out conditions and, unfortunately, reasonably calm fishing. We drifted for squid first up just off the breakwall over the weed beds. Matt lost a ripper within the first few drifts, but that was it. Pity as this calamari was easily 1.5kg but it failed to stay connected to Matt’s green jig.

We fished just south of the mussel farms next and caught nothing. We moved several times and were plagued by undersized pinkie snapper. We moved to the waters just off Hermsley and drifted while casting soft plastics as the southerly came up. We ended up with a couple of flathead from 30-45cm using Gulp Turtleback Worms in camo colour and Gulp Jerk shads in nuclear chicken.

We caught up with a few other anglers at the ramp who had also found it tough including a chap that had spent most of the day at St Leonards for no fish at all.

Plenty of quality flathead to 45cm have been caught by anglers drifting and casting soft plastics in shallow water from 1-3m from Clifton Springs to Portarlington. Look for patchy weed and a bit of a breeze to keep your drift going and give the fish a bit of confidence. Small minnow pattern soft plastics have done best twitched just above the weed and gravel beds.

St Leonards to Queenscliff

The 2014 Bellarine Flathead Challenge held over the Australia Day weekend saw 51 keen anglers sign up. The competition headquarters had to be moved from St Leonards Boat Ramp to Clifton Springs boat ramp because of 20-knot southwesterlies – they couldn’t even put the competition HQ tent up!

Trying conditions saw only 13 flathead weighed in, but some quality fish were still caught by competitors using bait and soft plastics. Paul Egan of Enfield caught the Champion Fish, at 1.43kg. Paul caught the big flatty fishing off the Portarlington Caravan Park on the drift with a half pilchard as bait. Paul took home the $200 cash prize plus perpetual trophy.

During the week leading up to the competition, Paul and the Johnson boys, Daniel and Tim, were all catching bigger fish, but it was Paul who bagged the important one on the day.

Last year’s winner, Sam Holwell, fished hard with dad Paul in Swan Bay and off the harbour wall at Clifton Springs, but couldn’t raise a strike. The ‘Scaffidi Gang’ also fished hard without much to brag about but made a strong comeback by scooping the mystery weights.

The $125 rod and reel combo raffle on entry tag was won by Graham Dorey of Belmont and the mystery weight winners were Haris Vrbovac with a 560g flathead, Shane Barrett with a 310g flathead, Grace Scaffidi with her 230g flathead, Tony Scaffidi with a 220g fish and Anthony Scaffidi with a 200g flatty.

Rod Ludlow from Beachlea Boat Hire at Indented Head had a couple of clients do well on whiting over the last month but he stresses that they worked hard for them. The whiting were caught from the St Leonards pier down to the entrance of Swan Bay. They weren't large fish and those that caught them worked hard, with a fish here and there. The run-out tide seemed best down along the Bellarine Peninsula.

Around the Portarlington mussel farms and Grassy Point was another area where anglers enjoyed King George whiting. Most fish were taken early in the morning or late in the evening with at least some tide movement providing the most action. Pipis and fresh squid were best. Those using cockles did not fare as well as those with pipis.

Work colleague Andrew Bowers has enjoyed some great fishing inside Swan Bay. Andrew has fished there a fair bit with his brother and reckons he has it wired. Using soft plastic lures, the Bowers boys caught over 10 snook around 60cm in 20 minutes and had a blast. Andrew also caught a ripper trevally, which put a fair bend in his rod, but his ‘bunny species’ has been flathead. Andrew has done very well casting soft plastics and catching good numbers of flathead up to 45cm.

Australian salmon have continued their good form in the rip; they have been around the 3kg mark on occasions. Most of the time they are not busting up so you need to troll lures blindly for them until a school is located. Please remember that if the salmon do happen to go nuts on the surface, driving right through the school will frighten them off.

Catch a few around Geelong, Bellarine Peninsula or Surf Coast to Lorne recently? Send in a report to --e-mail address hidden-- with ‘VFM’ in the subject field or give me a call on 0408 997 348. Please include where (without giving away your secret spot!), when, what on and who caught the fish. Pictures are always great, but please make sure they are at least 1mb (file size).

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