High hopes for river fishing
  |  First Published: December 2016

December can be a great month for anglers in the South West. The waters warm, the holiday-makers haven’t arrived yet, and the fishing can be red-hot if conditions align.

What might happen this year though, particularly in the rivers and estuaries, is anyone’s guess after the all the floodwaters have finally subsided. Even as I write this, Mt Emu and the Hopkins are still running too high and hard to successfully trout fish.

Come December, if you cop some bad weather and can’t fish offshore, then maybe the trout waters might just be at the right level. Just watch out for snakes, which will be more active than in the cooler months when you’d usually be walking the banks.

The estuary section of the river is producing some good bream and estuary perch, but these fish are mainly responding to deep techniques, not the type of bite you would usually be looking for this time of year.

December in the past few seasons has produced some good mulloway in the Hopkins, so hopefully some will move in as the water starts to clear.

The inshore areas should also begin to fire as water temperatures rise. The Killarney area and the inshore areas just out from the Moyne at Port Fairy and in Lady Bay at Warrnambool can produce some good whiting in the 40-45cm range at this time of year. Not only do these fish taste great, but you can sometimes forget how hard a good whiting can pull on light gear.

With the price of frozen pipis these days, pumping some clickers or using small pilchard strips can be good alternatives.

Drifting or using your electric motor to move around the shallow bay areas in calm, clear conditions, sight casting to squid is a great way to get a quality feed and is great fun too. Some good specimens are already being taken from the Killarney region.

Cray season will also be in full swing with both divers and hoop netters hoping for flat conditions to target their quarry. A flat, calm morning throwing plastics around for pinkie snapper in between checking the hoop nets for crays is a great way to start a day.

On the offshore scene, kingfish will be on everyone’s mind by the end of the month. The past few seasons have been pretty good for kingies, so hopefully there will plenty of yellowtail hoodlums around this summer.

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