Some of you may or may not have been to Hazelwood Pondage in South Gippsland over the last 12 months to try your luck on our very own 'Victorian Barra Fishery'. Things started of with a bang at the pondage and anglers were rapped on being able to successfully catch barramundi just over an hour from the city, but as we entered the cooler months of the year things started looking grim. Well fast forward to today, Victorian Fisheries have opened up an extended section of the pondage for land based fishing to all. Fisheries have confirmed that there still are barra in the pondage with fish OVER a metre in length, and that they have been somewhat confined to an area that was, until today off limits to any for of fishing.


This map from the Victorian Fisheries Authority shows the lake with restricted zones and permitted 'land based fishing zones' - with the newly opened zone in green at the top right of the map. While the access is still somewhat limited for anglers, this new section could be described as a bit of a 'hot spot' as testing has shown that the fish have been congregated in this area for some time.


If you are interested in having another shot at these fish pop into the store as the guys have been down and caught these 'vic barra' on both lure and fly and can pass on any handy tips and hot lures for the pondage, to give you a good shot at getting a fish for yourself.

 


The warm weather over the last week has seen plenty of anglers out fishing after dark, making the most of the mild nights. The squid fishing has been good around the many piers and rocks around both bays although no real monsters have been caught. Customers Jim and Harry fished with staff member George down at Flinders earlier this week where a few nice specimens were caught. They weren't monsters by Flinders standards but quality none the less. The boys also noticed lots of anglers targeting the horse mackerel around the pier with small baits under a float.


The best jig for the night was the slow-sinking Yamashita Q Live Search in pink. The tide was low at Flinders so the slow sink rate of this particular jig helped in staying in the 'hit zone' for longer, while also keeping above the leather-like weed and kelp that claims many jigs every day. These 'slow sink' jigs in 3.5 size are recommended for any shallow. heavily weeded bays like around the pier.


Over at Queenscliff customer Scott has been getting some nice squid. Scott came in store to top up his jig supplies, after losing some to the weed. Scott and mates have been getting most of their squid on a mixture of baited jigs and artificial jigs along the right hand side of the pier.


Small garfish suspended under a 'flasher' style float have been getting results, while the Yamashita Q Live 490 search jigs have also been working around the this area. The slow sinking models (blue eyes) have been good as the ground around Queenscliff is similar to Flinders and lacks the amount of tidal flow compared to places like Portsea or Sorrento.


Further back up Port Phillip, the small pier at Mornington has been producing loads of 'typical' sized squid. While there have been a few better sized squid coming from the cobblestone wall section of the main pier, they have been patchy in numbers. The small pier in front of the restaurants has been holding large numbers of these small squid, which have been a bit picky on jigs. Being so small, the most effective jig size on these are tiny little 1.5 - 2.0's, with natural baitfish patterns working when most others aren't. Start with a brighter colour to test the mood of the squid, as some nights they will hammer the brighter colours over the naturals. Staff members Dylan and Don have been at the pier catching these bait sized squid with the above mentioned jig sizes working best, and the odd one like this grabbing a size 2.5.

 


The bream fishing around Melbourne has started to heat up from the recent bit of rain we've had. The water had been very clear around the local estuaries and rivers and the fish were becoming flighty and a bit harder to trick. Now that there is a bit of colour to the water again, the fish feel a bit less vulnerable and have been going about feeding more actively and they haven't been as touchy on offerings.Customer Tony normally fishes the Patto regularly and his prediction was the fish were going to bite well this morning, and he was right. Tony fished earlier today to land 10 nice bream from 38 - 42cm. Tony fished small live freshwater yabbies on 10lb leader to land his fish, with a couple even busting him off on 10lb.


Customer Vis also fished the Patto recently with a mate, and using the same bait they landed a nice bag of bream. Vis was rapped with how successful the yabbies were when fished on the Gamakatsu 'C10U' stinger hook.


Customer Alex was down at the river during the week, before the rain where he found the fishing a bit slow. He landed some bream to 33cm and found the most productive time was about 5am as the tide was pushing in. With clear water he found the fish would bite delicately and drop the bait if any resistance was felt, with fine gauge hooks being the only way to pin them. Light leaders and almost no sinker weight was also key to getting the fish to mouth the baits for long enough to be hooked.

 


Eildon pondage is still ON FIRE for anyone thinking of heading up there. The trout fishing has been excellent, provided you are using the correct methods. Staff member George fished with mate Jim earlier during the week and they cleaned up again. With bright, sunny conditions the fish were holding a bit deeper but also biting more tentatively, with small size 14 hooks and corn kernel sized baits getting the bites. Using finely balanced coarse floats and 4lb mono gave every bit of bite detection from these fish.


Customer Zoran fished the pondage over the weekend and found some nice fish again. Powerbait and 'hatchery trout dough' was the most effective for him.


Staff member Don fished with mate Sam up on the pondage on Monday where they caught around 40 fish. Don and Sam caught a lot of school sized rainbows, with some bigger fish to around 6lb coming ashore also. The same methods have been working for all, with trout dough/powerbait the gun baits when fished on the correct hook, and a combination of sinking trout berley pellets and Stimulate fine grit berley mixture keeping the fish around.


If you are unsure of the gear being used currently at the pondage, come in and talk to the guys in store - as between them they've caught over 100 fish from the pondage in the last week alone, and these methods work excellent on all stocked lakes.

 

The whiting fishing in westernport has picked up a bit over the last week or so, with some better size fish on the go. The hot areas have been the middle spit and also the Yaringa end of quail bank. Many fish over 40cm have been around, with the average size being about 38cm. Customer Carlo got out over the weekend and got into some nice sized fish. The hot bait was fresh squid, with a few taking pipi also. The run out tide fished the best in 6m of water.


Quail bank has been producing some solid whiting like this ripper for customer Colin. Colin fished around the 4m area along the bank and got his bag of fish, with 10 of them being over 40cm. Pipi and mussel fished best during the incoming tide.

 

The western crater lakes and surrounding waterways have been fishing well of late with a good number of people interested in Bullen Merri in particular, which has been fishing well for the chinook salmon and trout. Many anglers catch both fish on various trolling methods, generally with the use of a downrigger as the lake is very deep. Fishing around the thermocline can produce good results along with actively searching for bait schools.


Friend of the shop John 'Mr Jinkai' has been out in the crater lakes recently where trout and salmon have been caught. John's most recent trip was last week where some big salmon were caught deep bait fishing. The bait of choice were pilchard strips, fished on a simple running sinker rig around the bait schools. Cubing with pilchards also helps tremendously to keep the schools of salmon around. Small metal 'flutter' jigs fished around the schools have been working well also.


Customer Ryan and mate Nick have been fishing some of the western lakes in search of some bigger redfin. The larger redfin seem to proliferate the western lakes, so if big redfin are your target - west is best! The guys have been fishing slightly bigger lures to weed out the smaller fish, with 4'' plastics and also yellowbelly sized vibes getting the interest of the larger fish. Some of the larger fish have been belting the lures as they are burnt back through the water as fast as possible, so it always pays to mix up your lure style and retrieve speed also.

 


The last few weeks have seen some good garfish activity locally, with the piers producing a few for the anglers chasing them. There have been numbers to catch if you're fishing inshore in a boat or kayak, but most of the reports have been coming from the piers and rock groynes around the eastern side of the bay. Berley is a must when targeting these fish as without it you may only get 1 or 2, whereas the use of a fine mix berley trail can result in good bags of these tasty fish.

Customer Dragon fished Frankston pier earlier this week where he got a great bag of fish. Both silverfish and maggots worked equally well when fished on size 14 hooks.


Staff member Don has also been out on the gars as well with his family. Fishing from Frankston pier over the weekend, Don managed a nice feed of gars, with silverfish being the more productive bait. A fine grit berley mixture keep going helped keep the fish biting while there were people jumping off the pier and swimming around it.

 

 


There has been plenty of talk of bluefin tuna over the last week or so, which is good as most anglers only assume tuna season is May-June. Yes they are certainly about during late autumn and winter, but some of the best tuna fishing can be had right now no matter where you're fishing for them. While many anglers may find the thoughts of finding tuna locally quite daunting, there are normally fish around within reach of offshore anglers during the summer months. These fish can be very flighty however, and trolling straight through bait schools with big lures very rarely cuts it. A lot of these fish are feeding on schools of small whitebait and pilchards or similar sized prey, so scaling down your gear and lure choices is the way to go.


James Roger from Unreel Fishing Charters has spent some time last week down fishing around Portland where he has caught some nice bluefin tuna with his sons. The tuna have been around in small numbers along the west coast, with the inshore reefs and contours holding fish.

A fair bit closer to home the tuna have been making their presence felt, with a ripper bluefin caught by James' son Dylan amongst some nice kingies just earlier this week. This nice fish was caught on a small pilchard patterned stickbait on a 3000 sized stradic reel, and took nearly 2hrs to land! The best part was this fish was caught just out from Flinders, where a few fish have been hooked - even by locals fishing from the pier.

 


The Murray River is a popular family holiday location, with nice serene bushland flanking a lot of it's banks and a large amount of famliy friendly camping areas. The fishing on the Murray itself can vary but over the warmer months the cod and yellowbelly can be caught on bait and lures. While on family holiday, 16 year old Jaxson caught his first Murray cod out of the river near Barooga, on his second day fishing. Jaxson got some great advice from the Compleat Angler guys and was wrapt with his fish. Great work Jaxson!


Further down the river, young Levi caught this nice 38cm yellowbelly around Piangil. The yellowbelly in the area should stay active until around May, so there's plenty of time to catch yourself some like this one!

 

While most people assume that shore based fishing isn't any good around the bays, there's been a lot of variety caught at the moment. There are many piers, rockwalls and beaches around both bays where you can catch some fish - the trick is to try and target a particular species. While this can sometimes be fruitless (that's why it's called fishing and not catching) you will generally do better if you set yourself up in search of a particular fish, instead of setting up for everything and most likely not catching much.


Around most of the piers in southern Port Phillip and Westernport there have been good numbers of yakkas. While they turn up and disappear pretty quickly, they should hang around for a while now as the reports have only recently hotted up. Portsea, Blairgowrie, Sorrento and Flinders are all worth a shot. Customer Angelo fished from Flinders pier during the week and while the squid were quiet for him, the mackerel made up for it. Small pieces of prawn fished on light gauge hooks off a paternoster rig were the go for him. Many anglers have also been catching good numbers of mackerel fishing under a float, as they tend to move about mid-water a lot. A fine grit, coarse-like berley mix is deadly when these fish are around, as it will keep the school actively feeding in your area. They can also be caught using small soft plastics fished on light weight and fine gauge jigheads.


While not normally known for whiting, fished from the shores of Port Phillip can produce some nice fish. Staff member Dylan has seen some good sized fish around Brighton and Black Rock during the week while swimming - with no one fishing for them. Fishing after dark around the top of the tide can be the most productive time, especially after a warm day. Customer Ange fished from the shore around Sandringham during the week where he caught some nice fish. Ange also found a patch of smaller pinkies, which came from a nearby reef to hammer his baits.

If you are chasing the whiting, try and target areas of sand with small patches of eelgrass or light reef nearby, and cast your baits around the edge of this structure, as the whiting will frequently patrol the edges looking for food. If it's pinkies your after, areas of heavier reef with broken sand patches are more productive, especially around last light. There are plenty of areas like around Brighton, Black Rock, Frankston and Mornington.


On the squid scene, things have been good. The warm afternoons have been good for squidding from the beaches and rocks, with Blairgowrie, Mornington and Mt Martha all producing. Customer Harry got out and fished from the beaches around Mt Martha and Mt Eliza, where he caught 8 nice squid using the Yakamito 'fluoro lemon' jig.


Around the same sort of ground off Mt Martha, customer Daniels and Jake fished in close to the shore in their kayak. A nice calm 5:30am start meant they caught prospect around the shallows without much chop and boat wake. The guys ended up with 9 squid in a few hours, on a variety of jigs in both size 2.5 and 3.0. Orange, green and purple colours worked on the day. Staff member Dylan fished in a similar area during the week to land 9 squid on size 2.5 Yamashita and Shimano jigs, with UV based blacks and pinks the standouts.