Mooch out for a mixed bag
  |  First Published: April 2016

As we taper into autumn, we should see the ebb of yellowtail kingfish in the region and hopefully the flood of southern blue fin tuna! Closet to shore, be on the lookout for one of the tastiest critters to grace the plate, the King George whiting. Early reports suggest this could be a bumper autumn around Geelong, the Bellarine and Surf Coast for ‘Old George’!

The Barwon River in Geelong did suffer a blue-green algae hit over the warmer months, but has cleared up a fair bit. European carp to 6kg have been caught by anglers bank fishing during the day near Queens Park, Balliang Sanctuary and Breakwater Bridge. Sweet corn kernels and bread have been best bait for the carp, while redfin to 35cm have been caught by anglers casting soft plastic lures parallel to the weed banks up near Queens Park.

The pinkie snapper have turned up inside Corio Bay and with plenty of undersized fish about, and anglers have a responsibility to ensure undersized fish are returned quickly to the water. Ross Winstanley fished inside Stingaree Bay recently, where he found the pinkie snapper going off. Ross managed his bag limit on two occasions and spoke to another angler back at the ramp who also caught plenty. Ross has also had a session where he caught and released 43 undersized pinkies and only one legal length specimen! Ross has also had several mixed bags of whiting and flathead mixed in with the pinkies.

It could be a good time to break out the soft plastic gear as there has been a few pinkie snapper caught either side of 40cm in the shallows around the Geelong waterfront, Point Henry and Point Wilson.

Those fishing with soft plastics targeting snapper around Point Henry and North Shore rocks have also tangled with a few short finned pike to 70m. They are reasonably difficult to hook due to their hard mouth, so make sure your hooks are sharp.

Rod Ludlow from Beachlea Boat Hire at Indented Head excitedly reports that in 13 summers, he has not seen a better run of whiting with some boats bagging out and others getting a fantastic feed. Rod notes that most of the fish were only 30-32cm, but were biting well on pipis, squid and mussels during both tides as long as the water was running. Rod says to try from Portarlington back to Indented Head boat ramp both in very close and out wide near the furthest grass beds.

Pinkie snapper have also been caught by clients using pilchards for bait near the Prince George light. The ever-reliable squid have also been active for Rod’s clients with a few good bags plus some cuttlefish in amongst them.

An impressive 40 keen anglers participated in this year’s Bellarine Flathead Challenge Hosted by St Leonards Angling Club. Only 13 fish were weighed in, so most found the flatties elusive but everyone had a great time. Father and son team, Jim and Cooper Robinson fished Swan Bay where Cooper caught a beauty at 2.77kg to take out the $100 prize money and just beat dad who caught another beauty at 2.18kg! On top of that, five mystery weight fish each received a $25 gift voucher from Mario’s Fresh Bait while Bella Scaffidi won the $100 cash lucky ticket draw.

Phil Walters from St Leonards Angling Club concurs that the whiting have been going nuts out off St Leonards and down to Swan Bay with a few bigger fish to 40cm caught also. Phil says whiting bags are also available at Clifton Springs but nothing over 36cm. Anglers fishing out off Werribee have had an epic run of small to medium whiting with plenty of bag limit captures there but nothing much over 35cm.

Inside Queenscliff has seen silver trevally to 42cm caught on pilchard fillets and 2” single-tailed grub soft plastic lures. The best bet has been to target the area when the tide has stopped running. As the tide speed picks up, sometimes they can be caught inside the harbour amongst the boats seeking shelter from the current.

Schools of Australian salmon to 1.2kg have been marauding baitfish around Queenscliff providing anglers with great sport casting lures into the hungry schools. Some salmon over 2kg have been caught by anglers casting lures from the rock platforms along the Great Ocean Road. These fish have been quite close to the rock platforms, so make sure you work the lure right to the edge where possible.

Offshore anglers should still find the odd mako and blue shark quite coaxable with a liberal berley trail in Bass Strait, but I’d expect captures of kingfish to start to slow right down as the water temperature falls.

Those with game gear should start trolling out wide in search of southern bluefin tuna as we saw some true monsters over 100kg caught not far out off the Surf Coast.

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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