Promising signs in the west
  |  First Published: November 2004

While many fishing options (at the time of writing) are restricted due to the high levels and dirty water, the benefits for estuary inshore and offshore anglers should become prevalent as the season progresses. But even with all the rain there have been plenty of options to keep keens angler motivated.

The Lower Merri River has been producing some quality trout with several between 2kg to 2.7kg being taken. The trout are in excellent condition with the most consistent flooding for years providing plenty of food. Hard-bodied lures, soft plastics and fly tackle are all producing fish. The estuary section is classed by fisheries as a sea run fishery, which allows anglers to target the trout even during the normal closed river season so long as anglers fish below the Highway Bridge at Dennington.

Despite the dirty water, the Hopkins River has been producing some quality bream. Dark coloured soft plastic lures such as the Ecogear Paramax in black, and the Berkley Power Minnow in and gold/black, have produced some excellent bream. On a recent trip on the river three anglers worked hard for around a dozen fish, with four exceeding 40cm and the best going 44cm. Bait anglers have also been producing fish on a variety of baits such as pod worm and brown shell.

At times, recently, the rivers have been too high to even fish for trout or bream. Fortunately, good numbers of salmon have been taken recently at Killarney and Port Fairy. Most fish have been in the 1-1.6kg range with the odd fish pushing 2kg. It is a welcome return as salmon fishing in the local area has been pretty inconsistent over the past two seasons, particularly when compared with areas to the east of the state such as Port Phillip Bay.

Trevally are always a popular target early in the season and some good fish to 1.3kg have been taken at locations such as Port Campbell Pier, the Moyne River and Portland Harbour. Portland Harbour has also produced yellow eye mullet, haddock and the odd King George Whiting. These fish are best targeted around the moored boats and the canal area and can provide a good light tackle option if the weather restricts travel further offshore. Late October and early November also sees some quality snapper taken off the Lee Breakwater. Big baits and late night vigils are usually necessary to avoid the plagues of pinkies that also usually arrive at this time, although some good fish were taken during daylight hours last season.

When conditions have allowed some excellent fish have been taken offshore past Danger Point towards Cape Nelson. Gummy sharks, morwong and snapper have been the main targets in this area, which is the domain of large seaworthy craft. The snapper, in particular, should start to move inshore as November progresses making them more accessible to anglers with smaller boats.

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