Winter slumber is over as the water warms
  |  First Published: September 2016

September is a heck of a time to be alive around Geelong and the Surf Coast. Snapper rub their eyes and emerge from their winter slumber. Things are starting to warm up. This time last year saw some epic tuna captures along the Surf Coast, so don’t forget to pack the heavy tackle, if you plan on slipping offshore.

If you’re looking to entertain the kids over the school holidays, you can take them to one of the lakes stocked with ready to catch rainbow trout, by DEPI. St Augustines Waterhole, at the Warn Ponds end of Highton, is scheduled to receive 500 of these trout. Likely, there are some left over from the previous stocking, nudging 800g or more by now. Early morning is best. Berkley PowerBait, worms, corn, small blade spinners, minnows or soft plastics work great. A new jetty was installed last year for easier access, but a lot of bank here is muddy. Pack gumboots and a pack of Cheezels if they’re not biting. For more information, including which lakes are stocked, head over to the DEPI website.

Last month, Michael Evans, from Last Cast Fishing Adventures, fished Wurdi Boluc Reservoir. He caught a cracking redfin that measured at 50cm and weighed in at a whopping 1.7kg. Michael was using a Nories Metal Wasaby spoon cast and retrieved from the bank.

The Surf Coast should see an influx of bait-stealing draught board sharks, and line burning school sharks. The odd snapper will show up towards the middle of the month, depending on water temperature. Try deep reef areas from 10- 20m while a run-out tide can be best.

Corio Bay has good numbers of garfish kicking about. Anglers fishing from piers and break walls have done well, with small fish baits under floats, when the weather is good. Limeburners Break Wall, Geelong Waterfront, Griffins Gully jetty and St Helens have all produced gars for land-based fishers. Best results have been with a good dose of berley, lobbed out to keep them keen. Chook pellets are great soaked in tuna oil, as they sink and don’t attract birds. Cormorants and other birds are natural enemies of garfish, so if they turn up, the party’s over.

Portarlington Pier has seen a few garfish and juvenile salmon. Those fishing St Leonards Pier have picked up some gars as well as quality King George whiting, using squid for bait on dusk. Snapper have been sporadic, however, fish from legal length to 50cm have been caught, from Corio Bay’s inner harbour to St Leonards. Smaller fish at 30cm are showing up around the piers, while larger fish have been caught in the deeper water by boat anglers.

Clifton Springs has seen calamari caught over the shallow reef areas in good numbers, but whiting were very quiet here last month. Rod Ludlow, from Beachlea Boat Hire at Indented Head, indicates that this has been one of the better whiting seasons he can remember. They continued the bite right over winter. Sizes ranged from legal length to 45cm on occasions. Smaller fish were in close, while longer fish seemed to be in the deeper water drop offs. Oddly, pipis were running second choice to squid, so make sure you catch a few calamari for bait on the way to whiting. Rod says that while the whiting ebbed somewhat, over the last month or so, calamari kept the anglers busy with plenty caught around the Bellarine Peninsula.

Bass Strait from Barwon Heads to Lorne has seen good numbers of gummy sharks, up to 12kg. Anglers, drifting in 40m of water and using fresh squid for bait, have caught pinkie snapper up to 3kg.

The lower Barwon estuary has seen an influx juvenile Australian salmon and yellow-eyed mullet. They’re excellent fun on light gear and can be caught one after the other. They love fish bait such as pilchards, glassies and blue bait. They’re also keen on shiny lures and soft plastics. This time last year saw the same thing with the salmon, except a few rippers over 50cm were also caught, which sure tests skills on light gear.

John Albrecht from Torquay Angling Club says there’s been quality King George whiting, biting in the shallows off Torquay lately, along with quality gummy sharks further out. Jan Juc Beach has Australian salmon and small pinkie snapper biting well in the surf. John says the best time for Jan Juc has been the falling tide on dusk. He notes that Spring Creek has opened up to the sea, after recent rains. This could kick local bream into gear.

Australian salmon have been biting well along the coast with fish close to 2kg being beached just on dusk at popular beaches such as Bancoora, Thirteenth and Jan Juc. Rock fishers have done well on the big salmon with Cathedral, Jump, Artillery and Wye River rocks all producing fish around 2kg. They’ve been cautious with lures, but slamming any fresh fish baits like pilchards, bluebait or glassies.

Mick Allardyce from Anglesea says the local beaches, such as Hutt Gully, Urquharts Bluff and Spot Creek have seen some salmon action, but they’ve been hit and miss lately.


Michael Evans caught this beauty 1.7kg redfin, ready for the camera.


Check out the DEPI website for family fishing lakes near you.

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