The coastal town of Torquay is situated about 25km south west of Geelong on the Surf Coast Highway, which is more commonly known as the Great Ocean Road. The town’s population explodes over holiday periods and rightly so due to the pristine beaches and relative proximity to major cities.
King George whiting are found offshore in moderate numbers but what they lack in abundance, they sure make up for in size.
An average Torquay whiting is around 38cm and a decent fish is about 45cm. However, there are some trophy fish to be taken here and best of all, you’re in with a show just about all year around.
Accessing these fish can be tough because boat launching is largely limited to dropping it in off the beach or making the 20km trek from Barwon Heads.
Torquay Angling Club members have access to a tractor for beach launching (conditions apply) and membership enquiries can be made at the clubhouse.
Even small waves can hamper launching efforts, but it has to be a decent swell at Bells Beach before the launching area in Fisherman’s Beach gets out of hand. The beach can be quite exposed so anything other than a northwester can render the place unfishable. I own a two-wheel drive car and just back down the ramp as far as I dare and push my boat down to the water with the help of a mate and a large jockey wheel. There is a $4 launching fee and an honesty box near the fishing and sailing clubrooms.
As you can imagine, the fishing pressure is quite light and this is just how the locals like it!
Fisherman’s Beach is also a popular jet skiing destination and despite the 5-knot buoy, they seem to buzz about in the shallows when the weather is warm, driving the fish off the bite on occasion.
Just about the entire east facing beach adjacent to Torquay from Point Danger to Breamlea has some whiting fishing on offer. The seabed is laced with reef and sandy patches that are home to calamari, wrasse, small snapper, leatherjacket and whiting.
Point Danger is a marine park and information on its GPS coordinates can be obtained from www.parkweb.vic.gov.au or phone 131 963.
Thankfully, Torquay whiting are not too fussy when it comes to bait preferences. The gun bait is bass yabbies, but just about everything else swimming loves them too! I’ve found they bite pretty well on pipi and squid so I use these baits out of sheer convenience.
This is a tough one. Because there is little or no current, berley tends to draw the wrasse from their lairs rather than pull whiting from all corners. This is mainly because the berley does not travel too far and liberal use seems to draw everything from banjos and wrasse to leather jackets.
I’m not saying don’t use any; just sprinkle a little over a wide area. Chook pellets and tuna oil is the easiest, but chopped up bass yabbies is what really gets them going.
It makes sense to use something with a bit more grunt if you’re in an area where whiting can be 40cm plus. There is plenty of reef and I’ve had a few fish bolt for the weed when hooked. 3kg line is probably the minimum requirement and I prefer to fish with about 4kg.
4kg line gives you that little extra when you snag up and I always have some spare rigs wrapped around some polystyrene in case I lose a few. Monofilament line is fine, but you can feel those pesky leatherjackets and timid whiting a heck of a lot easier with braided stuff.
There is just about no current to worry about so you can keep lead to a minimum. It is best to keep the line tight if possible to avoid gut-hooking fish. I prefer to fish with sinkers even though it is possible to do away with them.
Long shank hooks make hook removal a bit easier and give you that extra protection when the leatherjackets come on the bite. Small beads just above the hook are good attractors, but they can hamper hook removal if they swallow the bait deep. For this reason, a thin red tube is a better option if you’re after a bit of garnish for your bait.
There are no real secret spots. It’s pretty typical when whiting fishing to get back to the ramp and find someone has caught 10 or so when you didn’t even lose a bait. The whole area is littered with reef so picking a gap in the rockery is the only real decision. I’ve caught fish just about everywhere from 2 to 6m, at all tides and at all times of the day.
Low tide can see these reefs exposed and well within a short cast from the beach. This makes decent whiting a real option for beach fishermen during low light conditions.
Beach launching can be a bit tricky if you’ve never done it before. Basically, if there is any sort of swell whatsoever, it’s going to be tough to hang onto your boat, especially if it is 4m or over with a false floor and other heavy things in it. Small half metre waves look like nothing until you have to hang onto a tinnie in waist-deep water while your mate parks the car.
When dropping the boat into the drink, put the stern in on an angle so waves don’t hit the transom flat on and end up in the craft. As quickly as you can, turn the boat around to face the waves and if possible, hang onto the side and guide it over them. I’m talking about 30 to 60cm waves; anything bigger and it becomes a little too dangerous and you should reconsider. If you should lose your grip on the boat and it gets turned side on, then even a 60cm wave can flip it. This has the potential to cause a lot of damage or a serious injury so please take care and use common sense or better still, ask a local.
There are two scenarios when retrieving your boat from Zeally Bay and both involve at least two people. One scenario is with a few waves and the other is with zero swell. Of course, zero swell is ideal. You just wheel the trailer into the water and float the boat onto it. Generally, you’ll be doing this in knee-deep water and the trailer will want to tilt up. Just let it tilt into the air as this makes winding the boat on much easier. When the majority of its weight gets past the wheels, drop the nose down. This also makes for easier winch winding.
The second scenario is with a few waves. They just make everything a bit more difficult. I usually try to beach the boat as far up the sand as I can. As long as the boat is not too big, it can be wound on straight off the sand. If you have to wind it onto the trailer in knee-deep water, then remember to keep the transom at an angle to the waves to lessen their impact and reduce the amount of water coming over the back. Wind it on by tilting the trailer as mentioned earlier and get it moving as quickly as possible because the wheels can dig themselves in as the waves surge. If the wheels do dig in, rock the trailer by moving the towing arm from side to side. If you’re still stuck and you only have a two-wheel drive, you’d better have a nice long towrope and/or a mate in a four-wheel drive!
As Torquay is a major tourist town, it has plenty of accommodation ranging from tent sites, through to bed and breakfasts and hotels. Call the local tourist information centre on (03) 5261 4219 or visit www.visitsurfcoast.com.Reads: 1950