Rain brings fish in close
  |  First Published: August 2007

Wind and rain has greeted most anglers looking at an offshore fishing trip of late. I guess we should only whinge about the wind, as the rain not only helps alleviate the current water shortages but also helps the fishermen to a degree.

Shortly after substantial heavy rain the fishing isn’t usually all that flash, but as salinity levels start to return to normal the fishing often comes good due to a flushing of the estuary and river systems. The result is a situation where fish that have been working over deeper reef systems come closer to shore to feed, because of the added cover of murky water and the abundance of food that has been pushed to the inshore reefs.

Another result is larger estuarine fish such as mulloway are often moved into the ocean neighbouring large river systems such as the Barwon River.

Fishing inshore over the gutters with nearby reef systems using appropriate methods, fishermen stand a good chance of tangling with these fish if their luck is with them and they have the patience and perseverance to sit it out during the winter months.

Prior to the deluge, fishing offshore was very good with consistent catches of medium to large snapper over the deeper reef and gravel beds. Snapper to 7kg were caught on a regular basis while the water temperature stayed above 13oC, but as the temperatures drop with the wind and the influx of cool rainwater I expect these fish to become more scarce.

Along with snapper, early winter produced very good captures of nannygai from depths of 50m or more and although these fish are not huge their eating quality surely makes up for that. The numbers taken aboard our boat this year made them a viable target.

Along with the tasty red ‘nannies’ were jackass morwong and even the occasional blue morwong (or queen snapper as they are often referred to as). Both are amongst the finest eating fish available.

Gummy shark captures remain consistent through the full and new moon cycles and the females are still carrying pups at this late stage. I have found gummies to hold pups almost all year round so I feel there may be two or three distinct breeding cycles for our gummy sharks.

Schools of Australian salmon have been available offshore on occasions but will thin out somewhat over the next few months. They will still be available to beach fishermen as they work in closer to the beaches during the cool months, perhaps taking advantage of the bait flushed from the swollen creeks and rivers.

Other species worth chasing will be silver trevally, sweep and the large six-spined and golden horseshoe leatherjackets that are abundant over the rougher ground.

Queenscliff and Apollo Bay are both trevally hotspots over the winter and spring, and fish to more than 2kg can be taken. While both these fisheries are mainly within harbours, anglers using berley in close over sand gutters and nearer headlands will also have some great sportfishing on these scrappers with a never-say-die attitude. Baits of nippers, fillet of pilchard and whitebait are the recognised choice but chicken fillet, pipis and scallop gut should not be dismissed as productive baits as well.

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