Removing the goggles and flippers
  |  First Published: November 2016

The region’s residents are removing their goggles and flippers and emerging from what can only be described as a very wet lead up to the warmer months, with spring providing some of the best rainfall we’ve seen in years.

Lakes that were dustbowls over summer have copped a drenching and a lot of the region’s water supplies have made a dramatic comeback. Water at Lake Moddewarre had almost reached the old breakwall and Murdeduke, although still very low, was receiving massive inflows from Mia Mia Creek. Both of these lakes yielded salmonids in excess of 5kg in the early 1990s – let’s hope it is the beginning of something big! The Barwon River in Geelong burst its banks and looked like coffee, so fishing has been tough on the freshwater scene in Geelong.

Wurdee Boluc Reservoir near Moriac also copped it. The water here was quite dirty and rising fast. Lure fishing at Wurdee has been difficult at best although a few persistent anglers caught fat redfin to 45cm casting soft plastic lures and retrieving them slowly along the bottom.

Cunningham Pier saw an influx of yellow-eyed mullet with a few anglers getting stuck into plenty over the last month. They were not too big, but a heck of a lot of fun on light gear!

At last, there has been some snapper action inside Corio Bay with a couple of ripper fish around 7kg being caught out off Portarlington and Clifton Springs. The Geelong waterfront has also seen some quality snapper caught, which has got plenty of fishers excited.

I fished inside Corio Bay with Hugh Hanson last month, where we flicked a few plastics around Curlewis then back into the Geelong waterfront. Hugh caught a couple of calamari, plus some undersized flatties, but that was it for us. The area around Cunningham Pier was busy with boaters in search of that big snapper with about seven or eight boats in between Cunningham Pier and the Royal Geelong Yacht Club.

Clifton Springs is producing plenty of calamari for those drifting the shallow weed beds. I fished there last month with Hugh Hanson again and work colleague Adam Jordan. We hit patches of squid where we had triple hook-ups and they were not fussy at all with colour or type of jig used. We ended up with 16 calamari between the three of us in a couple of hours. The best calamari were about 30cm hood length and there were a few small ones amongst them. We had the best bites in 2.2-2.8m of water and nothing at all from about 4m of water. All this was within 200m of the boat ramp over the weed beds.

Rod Ludlow from Beachlea Boat Hire at Indented Head says the squid have not stopped with plenty of boats bagging out over any of the weed beds and reef areas in between St Leonards and Steeles Rocks at Portarlington. He notes that they have been biting all day, but dawn and dusk are still a standout.

There has also been plenty of flathead caught by anglers drifting off Indented Head and St Leonards while land-based anglers have done well catching squid from St Leonards Pier.

Rod had one boat bag out on whiting from 35-37cm just out off St Leonards in about 4m of water using pipis as bait. Rod says that although a few whiting have been caught in close, and the best spots have been between 8-12m of water off Indented Head and the Prince George Light. Both tides have been doing equally well with squid and pipis the best bait. Flathead have been biting well for anglers drifting the deeper areas between Indented Head and St Leonards.

The last month or so has been tough to get out on the Bellarine Peninsula due to the weather but the calamari fishing has been epic. Some rippers with hood lengths over 40cm have been caught by anglers drifting in the Lonsdale Bight, near Bell Reef and the grass beds just north of the Queenscliff Harbour entrance. Some have also shown up in the Queenscliff harbour and can be caught by anglers walking the piers.

John Albrecht from Torquay Angling Club reports there have been a few salmon caught between 1-2kg by anglers fishing Jan Juc Surf Beach. There have also been a few gummy and school sharks caught out off Torquay and a couple of snapper have turned up but have been a bit patchy. John notes that the King George whiting have also been a bit hard to find out off Torquay lately but the wind has kept most inshore.

A lot of the West Coast estuaries have really been firing as the mouths have opened up. John Albrecht has been fishing a few down the coast where he has enjoyed a couple of quality bream to 40cm using soft plastic lures. John says the local fish will happily take a frozen prawn, garden worm or lure.

The Anglesea River burst out to sea after some big rains and had another fish kill. Mick Allardyce was down at the mouth as it opened and noted that stacks of bream were heading out to sea. Mick said that the fish ranged from as small as 5cm to a respectable 30cm, which he helped on their way.

Mick also notes that the salmon fishing has been tough locally but Port Fairy has good schools of fish either side of 1kg in close enough for beach fishos to flick lures at them.

Tips for November

Hit the snapper with a run up! This is their peak period, so let the lawn grow and get out on the water! After dark is often best, with baits such as pilchards, fresh squid, silver whiting and fish heads.

Fish unweighted baits where possible, but if you’re in strong current, extend your leader out over 1m if you’re in a boat.

Land-based fishos should try the rocks near St Helens and North Shore. Cunningham Pier, Point Henry, Portarlington and St Leonards piers dawn and dusk all have snapper captures each year and are worth a look.

Those keen on surf tackle should try Jan Juc, Bancoora and Thirteenth Beach at dusk for salmon and snapper while after dark should see a gummy or snapper in November. If the Barwon estuary clears up, give the incoming tide a go for silver trevally and salmon while the outgoing should see a few whiting near the mouth.

That’s it for this month! Make sure you stay safe out there - the miserable winter may have ended, but the weather can change at any time.

Otherwise, enjoy the warm weather that November usually dishes out.

The snapper rseason has reached its peak, so it would almost be a sin not to get out on th water for a feed of tasty reds!

Fish HARD – Die Happy!

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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