Although we may wish otherwise, the good weather can't last forever.
This week we've seen wind, rain and chilly temperatures return, which has meant many local and visiting anglers stayed indoors instead of hitting the water.
When the weather behaves the way it has this week, most boats generally stay in the garage and the offshore fishing scene becomes quiet. Nonetheless, there was still a few windows for anglers to hit the water.
A few boats headed out off Warrnambool on Monday evening, bringing back a few pinkies and gummies. Last Friday was also surprisingly calm offshore, despite heavy rains and storms on land. Ed Richardson, Matt Cook and Tom Fox, from our workshop at Richardson Marine, headed out to the shelf from Warrnambool and had a fantastic session on hapuka. The boys also reported a pesky mako shark hanging underneath the boat, which snatched quite a few of their prized fish just as they were about to reach the surface. This mako also wouldn't take any baits thrown in its direction, but had no hesitations taking live fish off the line!
Closer inshore, salmon and tuna have been making their presence known along the inshore grounds at Port Fairy. The salmon have been spread right through the bay across to Killarney. When they're schooled up on the surface, as they currently are, salmon schools can appear very similar to a school of tuna. They're generally a little less flighty and easier to catch.
A 7'-7'6 rod, with 20lb braid on a 4000 reel, will allow you to have fun catching these mid-sized inshore salmon whilst still having a good chance of landing a tuna if one does pop up. Richard Beggs and Scott Gray have also been having fun fly fishing for these fish; certainly, quite a sporting way to catch salmon. The same areas have been holding tuna schools, and although these fish can move out of an area quickly, there have been many reports this week reasonably close to shore.
The Hopkins River has been starting to fire. Typically, January can offer some great fishing, although crowds of anglers, skiers and swimmers can make the fish flighty and difficult to catch. As we move into February and the crowds disperse, we should see the fish become more willing to feed and become easier to catch. Brad Hann has reported some fantastic fishing along the Hopkins foreshore after dark. If you're willing to stay out a little later than the average angler, good fishing is often promised in the Hopkins. I've often found lightly weighted (and scented) soft plastics, and shallow running hardbodies, fished slowly, to be good fish producers at night. Mick Mahney has also found plenty of bream in the lower sections towards the mouth. Whether you're fishing land-based or in a boat, most of the fish lately have been taken off the edges, so there's little need to fish too deep.
In the freshwater, reports have been quieter; however, there's still plenty of redfin to be caught in the local lakes. Purrumbete has been the biggest producer of fish, but Rocklands, Fyans, and Elingamite have all fished well for the English perch too. For those looking to fish Elingamite, just be aware of the presence of EHNV within the lake. EHNV is a virus affecting redfin and farmed rainbow trout, which, although posing no threat to humans, can severely affect fish populations within waterways. There's no way of removing the virus from a waterway once infected; however, we can all do our part to control the spread. EHNV can remain for long periods of time on boats, trailers, motors and fishing equipment, so be sure to properly drain your boat after leaving the lake, and thoroughly clean your equipment. We don't want this to be spreading to other waterways locally.
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