Salmon in big numbers
  |  First Published: July 2007

With inside water temperatures dropping below 13oC, it has paved the way for a huge influx of our favourite cold water fish, the Australian salmon.

Over the past month, the air temperature has plummeted dramatically, causing a sharp drop in water temperature inside our South Gippsland estuaries. The prolonged high water temperatures had caused the usual autumn run of salmon to be delayed but with this sudden drop in temperature, the big salmon have finally entered McLoughlins and Manns beaches. The salmon have been of mixed sizes ranging anywhere from 0.5–3kg.

A good friend, Lee Owen, had a great day in the McLoughlins entrance where he landed at least 50 salmon. The majority were about 1 kg, but Lee showed that with a bit of persistence it is probable you will get some 2-3kg fish as well.

Trolling has been popular providing there isn’t too much weed in the system. If there is, it is better to troll with the current and not against it. This will help stop the lure fouling up with weed. Putting a bibbed diving lure out as well as a metal is well worth it when trolling, as this will increase your chances of success. If you are trolling either of the Manns or McLoughlins entrances, you could choose a lure that dives as deep as 5m as the entrances are quite deep.

Jigging is my preferred technique for salmon as they tend to be on or close to the bottom this time of year and you can cover heaps of water without the risk of weed fouling your lure. Jigging doesn’t necessarily just mean dropping the lure straight under the boat either, it is equally as good to cast the lure and letting it sink to the bottom, where it can be jigged back to the boat, just like you would with a soft plastic. This method often produces a by-catch of trevally as well. The out-going tide has been producing the bigger salmon.

Locations include both entrances, and also the shoal channel running all the way from McLoughlins to Manns beach. In other words, they are right through the entire system. I have found though that that shoal channel often – but not always – produces better-sized fish.

Saltwater flyfishing has been very successful lately. The best thing to do is to use metal lures to find them and then anchor up. Use a fast sinking flyline and any minnow profile fly in blue, green or white. Cast the fly up current, let it sink back behind the boat and work it back in using short fast strips. This method is a hell of a lot of fun and can often produce bigger fish than with metals.

Surprisingly enough, there are still heaps of flathead being caught inside the estuary. The numbers of flathead inside McLoughlins usually drops dramatically in winter, as does the size. This winter the flatties have been ranging from 40–50cm in length, which is great to hear. Most have been caught on baits such as pipis and whitebait. Both light running sinker and paternoster rigs have been successful. A berley trail has been necessary as well.

Even more surprising have been the numbers of whiting in our south Gippsland systems. These fish can be targeted using baits of bass yabbies and pipis fished on light rigs. Anglers seem to be getting at least half a dozen at a time. This shows how good the winter fishing can be if you just get out there and give it a go.

For more information on fishing McLoughlins and Manns beaches, contact Will at Allways Angling in Traralgon on 51748544.

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