What a difference some consistent good weather can have on fishing here in the southwest. Anglers in the early part of January were bemoaning the poor weather and inconsistent catches locally, but things soon began to change later in the month.
Plenty of good reports have been coming in from many different areas and species. Anglers’ main problem now is having to choose what they would prefer to pursue. March is one of the most reliable months weather wise and, with warm water temperatures, all the summer species should still be available, hopefully along with the start of the bluefin tuna run.
All this makes March a perfect time for the Hooked on Rod’s and Reels Shipwreck Coast Fishing Classic. It will be on from March 7-15. With Senior and Junior prizes in 13 categories ranging from game species to freshwater fish there is something for everybody. Boats can launched and retrieved from Port Fairy in the west to Port Campbell in the east and all ramps in between.
Offshore anglers have had little trouble finding pinky snapper even if the size of these fish is a little down on earlier in the season. Plenty of by-catch in the form of snook, calamari, silver trevally, blue morwong and pike can also appear when targeting these fish.
Gummy and school sharks are still being taken by offshore anglers but not as consistently as earlier in the year. The warm nights of recent times also make for perfect conditions for targeting these shark species off the local beaches in the evening if the swell isn’t too big.
In other good news for surf anglers, in March 2007 safety concerns forced Parks Victoria to close access to the Gibsons Steps beach access near Port Campbell. It was reopened during January of this year, giving back anglers access to a popular surf fishing area.
On the gamefishing scene there have been good numbers of small makos in the 10-20kg bracket around, as well as a few much bigger specimens. A couple of thresher sharks to 50kg have also been taken, and March is often a good time to target these fine sportfish.
A few anglers have also had some encounters with a particularly large great white that seems to be cruising the area. Although whites are protected by law, it’s best to protect yourself and get away from the area ASAP, should one come sniffing along the berley trail.
Yellowtail kingfish have been reported from a number of different areas by anglers targeting them specifically, as well as by anglers catching them as incidental captures while bottom fishing. Most of these fish have been in the 4-5kg bracket and while not of the size of the fish further west at Portland, they are a great sign that there is a significant population of the fish spread throughout the southwest.
The warm weather and calm seas have also led to excellent conditions for diving and snorkelling for crays in the local area (if you can keep the great whites out of your head!).
King George whiting have also been in good numbers in the inshore bays around Port Fairy and Killarney, with some fish approaching 50cm.
The estuary scene can often take a bit of a back seat when sea conditions are flat, but some good captures have been taken over the summer months. In the Hopkins, bream have been responding well to hardbodied lures fished in the shallow margins, while good numbers of medium-sized estuary perch have been taken at night.
There are still no reports of any mulloway being landed.Reads: 629