Wave of change brings life
  |  First Published: September 2014

Mid July saw the manual opening of the Curdies River allowing floodwaters to push existing stale sweet water out of the system into the southern ocean while allowing life giving, oxygenated salt water back into the system.

This has occurred in estuary systems right along the south west coastline: the Hopkins River at Warrnambool along with the Merri (which is rarely ever closed); the Gellibrand River at Princetown; Yambuk Lake and the Eumeralla River west of Port Fairy and finally the Fitzroy River at Tyrendarra just east of Portland. All are open to the sea and will remain so for quite some time.

This is all good for the estuary bio systems that exist, sometimes under pressure from human impact as well as nature to begin or complete their lifecycles. Live bait such as shrimp, whitebait and crab can once again do what they do when tidal conditions once again become a major factor of influence.

The Hopkins River has seen bream actively feeding in the lower reaches but as the flow of freshwater upstream subsides these very fish will shortly move into the upper reaches in the hope of spawning new life. Most bream are averaging around 32cm but it has been good to see the odd blue-nosed thumper of 40cm+ falling victim to anglers who put in the time and have honed their angling skills. Experienced bait anglers have triumphed of late but those fishing scented plastics and medium diving minnow lures have also caught their fair share.

The Curdies system has seen plenty of bream taken on bait as well as plastics fished shallow in the lake well out of the main channel. The better fish have averaged from 33-39cm and while natural bait stocks such as shrimp, greyback minnow and spider crab renew themselves, the hungry bream have been gorging themselves on earthworm, juvenile salmon and mullet flesh, as well as commercially packed frozen prawn and whitebait. As the spring weather slowly warms the water, weed growth will once again take off providing food and shelter for more natural, local baits.

King George whiting to 35cm and silver trevally to 600g have become an almost regular occurrence along our coastline with catches coming from fishing sandy spots available from many of our local beaches (the better spots are surrounded by weed and reef patches) to the Port Campbell pier (our only artificial protuberance into the sea from Warrnambool to Apollo Bay).

Thrown into the mix are Australian salmon with many exceeding 2kg although the majority of the schooling fish average around 600g. It’s potluck with the salmon – great sportfish, especially on light gear, but who will be next to crack the big’un? That’s why they call it fishing, not catching!

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