July in the southwest often means salmon time for many anglers and already some good schools have shown up in a variety of areas.
Quality salmon to 2kg have been making sporadic appearances at the Warrnambool Breakwater along with a few barracouta. Overcast days when there is a bit of swell running are ideal. Most of these fish have been taken off the back wall using surf tackle.
If you don’t have surf tackle then fishing directly off the end of the lower wall can be productive. Using a medium 7 to 8ft rod, cast out an unweighted half pilchard and let it drift slowly through the water column. It’s a good way to target salmon and ‘couta but will also attract silver trevally and some large King George whiting. The rig helps avoid less desirables such as rays, skates and Port Jackson sharks that love baits anchored to the bottom.
Many anglers target salmon are using fly and spin gear from the beach at Killarney during the cooler months of the year. Once again, overcast days when there is a bit of swell running are the best times for shore-based sessions at Killarney. More traditional surf fishing options exist – Levis Beach and East Beach at Port Fairy are the best choices.
The Hopkins has been fishing well for bream with fish taken throughout the system. The Victorian BREAM Series tournament was held recently on the Hopkins River with 40 teams fishing. Over the 2 days Fishcare tagged all of the 237 fish that were brought in and didn't record a single mortality.
There were also two recaptures of bream that were caught, tagged and released during the last tournament in December. The sheer number of boats on the water meant that the fishing was never going to produce the number of fish you might encounter on a normal social day of fishing.
Despite this, 12 teams weighed full bags of 5 fish on day 1 and 11 teams on day 2. This compares well with most BREAM ABT style competitions, particularly for such a small system.
Many 1kg+ fish were brought to the scales with the largest being 1.6kg.
By July most bream will be taken in the lower reaches if we’ve had any significant winter rains. Unlike bream, estuary perch have continued to be scarce, particularly in the estuary section. Only two were brought in to the weigh master during the recent competition, one of which was tagged.
My last eight lure casting sessions have seen only bream come to the net – no perch. The freshwater section of the river has been producing fish but access to these areas often requires considerable effort. Come July there should have been some movement downstream and some more perch should be present in the estuary section. The ski lane area is often a good place to start looking for them in July.
The Curdies River has been fishing really well for bream. Some excellent bags of 1kg+ fish were taken during the May and June with some locals saying it was the best fishing they had seen for some time. Soft plastics, hard bodies and bait anglers have all produced the goods.
It’s been good to see a run of normal size southern bluefin and albacore along the coast at the more traditional time after the unbelievable early season run of big fish. Most local anglers have been travelling to Portland and Port MacDonnell to target these fish.
Come July there is a chance that some will still be around, but if not, it’s a great time of year for some deep bottom fishing for gummies, snapper, morwong and knifejaw.Reads: 576