Summer in the southwest
  |  First Published: December 2004

January is a time many anglers look forward to on the southwest coast with most of the popular species available.

Fine weather, flat seas and warm balmy nights are what anglers hope for to be able to successfully pursue their quarry. However, the reality of January in the southwest can often be so different. Holiday crowds, howling south-easterlies, consistent afternoon sea breezes (that are often so much more than a breeze), and rain that makes you wonder whether it is really summer, can all ruin chances of pursuing the species you want.

The positive thing about summer in the southwest is that there is a great variety of angling options. So, if crowds, the weather or just the fact that your target species doesn’t seem to be around, stop you from doing what you want to do, try another angling option.

Pinky snapper are usually prolific and can be located a short distance from most of the boat ramps in the area, an important consideration due to the dangers of the shipwreck coast and the changeable nature of the weather. Fishing for snapper with lightly-weighted baits fished in a berley trail in 6-10m can turn up a wonderful variety of fish as well as the pinkies.

If we do get some stretches of fine weather and flat seas then yellowtail kingfish and southern rock lobster (crayfish) will be at the forefront of many anglers’ minds. A lot of anglers come to the southwest in pursuit of the kingfish and some excellent catches are taken. However, it must be remembered that, like the weather, they can be very hot and cold. If they don’t appear to be around then target something else.

If you do get lucky enough to strike a hot kingfish bite, you’ll enjoy angling action that is about as good as it gets in this state. Show some restraint, though, and be prepared to release a few if you do strike a good patch as it would be a shame to see this great sports fishery decimated by the kill and grill mentality.

There is good estuary angling available for those days when sea fishing is impossible. January is usually not regarded as being one of the better months for bream but last year the Hopkins River produced some good fish at this time, many exceeding 1kg. There were also a few anglers given pleasant surprises by the odd school mulloway, which showed an interest in soft plastics aimed at bream.

Most of the larger perch have moved back up into the fresh but plenty of ‘Hopkins specials’ in the 28-32cm length are around offering great fun for lure and fly anglers, particularly on warm, muggy nights.

Surf fishing on these types of nights when the swell is down, is also another popular option with mulloway, pinky snapper and a variety of shark species being the main targets.

A spot of freshwater fishing is another option if the weather turns sour. Trout are best targeted by baitfishing the deeper pools of the Hopkins and Merri rivers using shrimp, minnow or mudeyes at this time of year.


The author with a southwest coast kingfish. Like the weather, the kingfish fishing can be hot and cold during summer.

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