Whitebait Migration Causes Chaos
  |  First Published: October 2005

I’ve spent the last month concentrating my efforts on landing a few trout because spring is trout time in the Otways: not just in the mountain streams but also in the low-lying estuary systems that abound our coast. Large numbers of whitebait have entered the estuaries to breed and the trout can't help but give themselves away as they crash through schools of these tasty little fish.

By using small lures and fishing them as close to the bank as possible, one can only try to stay calm in anticipation of the next massive strike. I’ve landed plenty of fish of late from the Aire River with the average day yielding 3 or 4 fish for an afternoon’s fishing. These have ranged in size between 500g and 2kg. Remember to move slowly and stay low along the river’s edge so as not to spook the fish. Keep a watchful eye on the water at all times because it is possible to see fish cruising along in the shallows. Move too quickly or silhouette yourself against the sun and your chances of seeing any action will diminish enormously.

It’s not just the trout feeding on the whitebait schools. Bream love to devour them as well. Small soft plastics in white or jelly colours work fine and even account for the odd trout. The bream are moving up in the estuary at this time of year and the junction of the Ford and Aire rivers, or at the bottom of Sally's Hill in the Barham River, will fish the best. When retrieving your soft plastic lures, give the rod tip a twitching action to imitate an injured baitfish. I find this entices the bream to attack the lure more often then a straightforward up and down retrieve.

On the ocean scene, this month will see the influx of silver trevally, squid and snapper around the coast. The best places to dangle a line will be the waterfall, boat harbour and in close at Marengo.

Squid are already taking jigs inside the harbour, some to around 1kg. Remember that there is a bag limit of 10 squid per person per day.

The surf beaches also fish well for salmon and gummy sharks. Johanna Beach has been the pick of the bunch with salmon to 2kg taking bluebait and gummies after dark. Most have been taken with fresh fillets of salmon when the sea is flat. For the most up-to-date Apollo Bay fishing reports give Surf-n-Fish a call on (03) 5237 6426.

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