Fish hard – die happy!
  |  First Published: December 2016

We’ve had a cracking summer so far with plenty of fish biting, and some much needed water in the dams.

The Barwon River in Geelong was slightly discoloured early in the season, which made lure fishing difficult. Anglers were enjoying good sport, catching European carp to 5.5kg in the Barwon, near Balliang Sanctuary and Queens Park. The best bait has been squashed bread, sweet corn kernels and worms on a running sinker or unweighted rig.

Anglers fishing upstream, near Pollocksford Bridge and Merrawarp Road where the water is a bit clearer, using lures and live minnow were catching redfin up to 35cm.

Plenty of water was flowing into Wurdee Boluc Reservoir near Moriac, though it was also a tad discoloured. Brown trout up to 1.2kg have been caught casting lures at dawn and dusk. There was good inflow into lake’s Modewarre and Murdeduke, but they are a long way off seeing any fish stocked into them.

Snapper have been biting well in the region, and there is plenty of bait inside Corio Bay to feed them. Anglers bait fishing the edge of the main shipping channel off Clifton Springs have found lots of silver whiting – these make excellent bait for snapper. When the silver whiting congregate along the channel like this, it’s time to troll deep lures, targeting for snapper. Downriggers or deep divers, such as the Rapala Tail Dancer will work a treat.

Good captures of snapper up to 3kg have come from in the deep water near Point Henry for anglers using pilchards and silver whiting as bait. Bradley Cox reports that some land-based possies around Corio Bay, fishing fresh squid and mullet, have been producing some ripper snapper up to 84cm – but soft plastic lures have been the stand out. Brad has been averaging snapper around the 50cm-54cm mark, casting Damiki 4” Ripper plastics on a 1/4oz jighead – these plastics are well scented and have a great action when hopped along the sea floor.

Hugh Hanson has been flat stick in Corio Bay chasing snapper lately – he’s hunted high and low for them, and has found it tough at times. Hugh has hit water for a few pre-dawn sessions, and has caught some quality fish; including a 74cm beast last month, casting a Berkley Gulp Turtleback Worm on a 2500 sized reel and 5kg braid – which gave him heaps on the light tackle. Hugh and his mate struck the fish on a hot bite, catching and releasing plenty of snapper from 40cm to a line-burning 74cm.

Anglers fishing in 4m-6m of water out off Clifton Springs have caught King George whiting up to 40cm, which is a good sized fish for that area. Calamari are also biting nearby, and the whiting are taking both calamari and pipis. For calamari, try drifting in 2-3m of water to the left and right of the Clifton Springs boat ramp, as there are good reef patches here.

The Bellarine Peninsula is also enjoying a fine whiting run from St Leonards down to Queenscliff, with fish either side of 40cm also gracing the nets of excited anglers. They take a bit of locating, but just keep moving until you find them.

Phil Walters says the Family Fishing Competition held out of St Leonards by the St Leonards Yacht and Motor Squadron, St Leonards Angling Club and Bellarine Pirates Angling Club was a huge success – with 66 entrants competing for the $2,500 of prizes up for grabs. Kirt Behan caught the heaviest snapper of 2.71kg, Tony Scaffidi nabbed a whopper for the heaviest squid at 2.7kg, Ryhs Pontelandolfo managed the heaviest flathead of 690g, while the heaviest whiting of 410g went to Matt Paech. Kirt Behan won the overall champion weighing in four species with Noel Behan runner up. Anthony Scaffidi won the junior section with three species, with Nathan Grasso runner up, and Tyson Okines won the nipper section. Rob Corbett won the $500 cash prize on entry tag.

There has been some whopper calamari kicking about as visiting angler Marty Ellul from Warrnambool can attest. Marty fished form St Leonards to Queenscliff, drifting over weed beds in 4-5m of water on the outgoing tide, and caught a few rippers using white and orange jigs in size three. Exciting times await pier anglers as the Portarlington Safe Harbour Project takes shape. The current project includes two rock breakwaters to the east and north of the pier, as well as a new 190m long berthing jetty, plus various upgrades for the pier and harbour. For more information, visit www.parks.vic.gov.au/portarlington-harbour, email the project team on --e-mail address hidden-- or call Parks Victoria on 13 1963.

Anglers fishing out off Barwon Heads have encountered blue, mako and thresher sharks in and around the 70m line. Kingfish should make an appearance this month, so keep an eye out around the shallow reef areas off Collendina for these hard-fighting sport fish. In and around the mouth of the Barwon River, there have been some whopper whiting up to 45cm caught by anglers fishing with fresh squid and pilchard fillets at dusk. Further up the estuary, silver trevally up to 40cm have been caught on pilchard fillets, raw chicken and pipis.

Big Australian salmon around the 2kg mark have been terrorising baitfish inside Swan Bay, and anglers casting lures up and down the channel have had a ball catching them. This month should see big salmon schools hang around the southern half of Port Phillip – so keep an eye out for birds working the schools on the surface, or large patches of rippled water on a calm day. Approach the school upstream of where they are headed; cut your motor and let them come to you. Often they will surround the boat and everyone hooks up. If you constantly troll through the middle of the school, you will make them boat shy and you won’t be able to get near them.

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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