Heard all about the winter surf fishing action along the Victorian coast but not quite sure where to go? As a starting point, Jarrod Day gives us a snapshot of three popular and productive surf beaches near Melbourne.
When winter approaches and the ocean temperatures begin to cool, Australian salmon begin to make their way into the surf zones in search of food. In turn, anglers by the dozens line the beaches in search of their prized winter catch.
One of the keys to success is getting to know the particular beach you are fishing, since all locations can fish a little differently at times.
Gunnamatta Surf Beach is a known haven for two of Victoria’s most targeted surf species. Australian salmon and gummy sharks frequently visit the 18km of surf coastline on which Gunnamatta is located. Many deep gutters and rocky reef systems exist in the surf zone, providing cover for all sorts of fish. For predatory fish, these ‘hiding locations’ are areas in which they search for food because they attract baitfish or other potential meals. From an angler’s point of view it is these locations we need to look for to find quality fish.
Depending on where you park your car there are plenty of productive gutters for fishing. The car park at the Surf Life Saving Club gives anglers quick and easy access to two productive gutters without having to walk too far. As you walk up over the sand dune a deep gutter to the left fishes well all season. Another gutter to the right also fishes well but is a little further to walk to. They are both deep and if fished after dark you’re a good chance of catching gummy sharks.
A run-in tide is is productive at Gunnamatta and if this coincides with the evening your chances will increase.
Getting there: At Rye, take the Dundas Street turn off and follow to the end car park (Melway reference 251 F4).
Latest reports: Gunnamatta has been very consistent throughout the 2007 season. Salmon averaging around 1kg have been the mainstay for anglers, but recently there have been good reports of larger fish frequenting the area.
I was lucky enough to get away with some mates recently to get in on the action, catching and releasing salmon to 1.8kg. Our most productive baits were bluebait and pipis fished on a paternoster rig. Berley was essential to attract the fish to our gutter.
Kilcunda Beach is another very popular surf beach providing anglers with a good run of salmon throughout the season. There are two beaches at Kilcunda. Kilcunda Beach itself is recognised by the old trestle bridge near the car park, while Cemetery Beach is a few metres further along behind the cemetery. Both are extremely productive and usually fish well together. Both beaches have rocky outcrops to the right hand side with deep gutters throughout.
Kilcunda Beach has two major gutters to the left and to the right. The right hand gutter has quite a rocky bottom, which you may snag up on, but the fishing is good because of this structure.
Cemetery Beach has its deepest gutter to the left hand side as you stand at the top of the walking path.
At these beaches, a high tide in either the evening or early morning is most productive. Anglers who fish a high tide during overcast conditions will also find success.
Getting there: Follow the Bass Highway past the Phillip Island turn off at the roundabout at Anderson. About 3km past the roundabout is the Kilcunda Caravan Park, just past that on the left is the Kilcunda Beach Car Park. Cemetery Beach is located 100m past Kilcunda (Melway reference 512 R11).
Latest reports: The fishing at Kilcunda surf beach has been sensational with weekend anglers being very successful. Most salmon have ranged between 500g and 1.5kg. Bluebait has been the most productive bait, but some larger fish have been taking to blue surf poppers fished on a paternoster rig.
There are a lot of gutters along the stretch of beach at Cape Woolamai. At the Surf Club, the gutter to the left is deep and productive, or alternatively the first car park called Anzacs has two gutters. There is a rocky gutter to the right (which also produces King George whiting in the summer) and another one to the left that holds salmon, trevally and mullet in the winter months. Gummy sharks can be taken all along the beach.
The run-out tide at Cape Woolamai fishes well because of this beach’s deep gutters and strong currents. Most of the gutters are very deep with gravel bottom, so fish tend to seek shelter in them. Overcast days fish well for salmon while night time fishing for gummy sharks is more productive.
Getting there: At the Anderson roundabout on the Bass Highway turn right and follow your nose to San Remo. Go over the bridge onto Phillip Island and turn right into Cape Woolamai Road. Follow to the end car park (Melway reference 532 H10).
Latest reports: Anzacs Beach has surprised anglers this season with some very respectable fish taken. One angler reported landing a fish of 1.95kg. There has also been a lot of smaller fish taken amongst the larger ones. Berley is the key to attract a school to your gutter. Then, persist through the smaller fish until the larger ones arrive, this is usually around first light or sunset during a run-in tide.
Australian salmon should still be around in numbers during August. In last month’s VFM there was an article detailing the basic technique for catching salmon from the surf. Now you know where to start your search so there’s no excuse not to get out amongst the action.
GEARING UP FOR SALMON
Line: 610kg monofilament
Leader: 1015kg fluorocarbon
Hooks: 1 to 2/0 depending on bait size
Berley: Chook pellets, tuna oil and pilchards mixed together.
Baits: pipis, bluebait, whitebait, pilchards, squid
Sinkers: Star sinkers of 1–6 ounces