The late run of southern bluefin tuna along the Vic west coast has been good, the only real issue has been getting a break in the weather. For many trailerboat fisherman who have managed to sneak a good weather day in here and there, the fishing has been good. Good numbers of bluefin have been found from Portland back to Warnambool, with fish spread out right out to the shelf. James from Unreel Fishing Charters has been putting customers on to fish from depths as shallow as 30m out from Port Fairy. James has said that while there has been a bit of work locating the fish they have been in big schools once they have been found, and James has been getting hook ups of up to 8 fish at a shot off these schools.


Smaller lures have been the way to go on these fish lately, with skirts in the 4 - 6" size being the most effective, especially in brighter colours such a pinks and greens. Further afield there have still been a few bluefin pushing along the southern NSW coast. Customer Aaron fished wide out from Bermagui just recently to land this nice fish of 55kg.


While some sections of the Murray river have been affected by blue green algae, this hasn't stopped the fish from biting. The section down stream from Yarrawonga is the worst affected at present, with a small amount still affecting upstream from Yarrawonga towards Corrowa. To prove that the algae hasn't made fishing pointless, customer Mario fished the section of river from Corrowa down towards Bundalong - where he caught around 60 cod in 5 days. A lot of the fish were in the 40 - 60cm size range, with a few like this 80cm fish taking lures also. Trolled stumpjumpers and cast spinnerbaits did most of the damage.


Staff member Dylan has also been caught a few cod recently. Dylan has been fishing the section of water around Bundalong and has caught fish to around 75cm on surface lures during the afternoon. Customer Travis also fished for the cod recently and managed his first one which he was rapt with.


Not to be outdone, the golden perch have been quite active in the Murray around Mulwala recently. Dropping water temperatures have kicked them into gear and had them feeding actively, with staff member Dylan and mates catching a few nice ones over the Anzac weekend. The goldens have been hitting 3/8th and 1/2oz spinnerbaits along large bankside snags, with purples, whites and red skirt colours being the standout colours recently. These fish should be reasonably active over the next month and then slow off as the water gets substantially cooler towards June.


Most of the Gippsland estuaries have started slowing down over the past month or so as the water starts to cool down. Bream, flathead and most other species are still being caught but not in the numbers compared to the warmer months of the year. This time of year however can be good for quality size bream, with some of the larger fish feeding up before the winter pre-spawn.


Staff member Dylan has been paddling around some of the eastern estuaries recently, where some nice flathead and bream have been caught. Most of the larger flathead have been sitting on the flats late in the afternoons with some sun to warm the water, while a lot of bream have been caught fishing shallow drop offs and ledges with small hardbodies.


Customer Brett fished out in the Gippsland lakes recently in search of some bream, with a few nice school fish around and eating the lures. Most of the fish were hovering either side of 30cm, and were hitting small hardbodies like Daiwa Double Clutch 60's with gusto. Slightly warmer water temperatures have had these fish feeding right up along bankside structure still.


Just as most anglers were thinking that the West coast tuna season was slowing up, and being a bit average this year - the run of 'barrels' came through. While that particular patch of fish has also slowed up a bit, there have still been fish moving through from Port Mac to Apollo Bay. Virtually every one of these fish have been above 70kg in weight, with fish in the 95 - 120kg range probably about average. Most of these large fish have been roaming between the 30 -50m depth zone with a few caught either side of this as well. With the larger fish, the bigger lures have been much more effective. The preferred size has been between 10 and 12 inches, which are basically medium sized marlin skirts. Popular skirt colours lately have been lumo, frigate and pink/squid patterns.

Customer Michael sent us a photo from a friend who was fishing out of Portland where these 2 chunky tuna were caught, we aren't sure on any more details but they are both crackers. Customer Steve also fished out from Portland recently to land this 70kg bluefin. Steve found this nice tuna along the 50m line and it took a 10 inch Pakula skirt.  

 

The tuna season down along the west coast has wound to a close for most anglers and many have turned their attention to the run of larger bluefin tuna off the southern coast of NSW. While the 30 - 70kg average size of these fish is much larger, the fish are also a lot further out. Some anglers are venturing up to 80km offshore to tangle with these fish. Trolling skirts and hardbodies has been an effective method of locating a patch of fish - then starting a pilchard cube berley trail has been the best way to keep them hanging around.

James from Unreel Fishing Charters has still been giving the west coat a run and he has been catching plenty of tuna with customers, without too much of the crowds. James has found lots of school fish to 15kg fish moving around the 40 - 50m line out from Portland, Port Fairy and Warnambool. Hardbodied lures have been working better for James recently, with Rapala XRAP 20's doing well and the new Samaki Pacemakers also doing a very good job. Natural colours like pilchard, saury and redbait patterns have been much more effective than brighter colours in the shallower water also.

 

While a lot of people don't seem to think there's much happening on the fishing front over the winter months - it can be the best time of the year to target fish like bream. There an still be some very tough days when chasing them, and a bit of ground work to locate the fish - but once they are found they are generally found in good numbers. Most often than not the fish are located in the deeper sections of the waterway during the colder months, so that is a good place to start looking. Customers Thao and Nick fished around the estuary of Mallacoota during the week with a few mates with bream being the main target. 

Both of the boys caught some nice fish to just over the 40cm mark using various different lures. Most of the bream were found in small schools and responded to lures being fished deep and slow. The most productive styles of lures were plastic and metal vibes along with Cranka crabs.

Thao and Nick also kept a feed of flatties in the 45cm size range while out targeting the bream. Dusky flathead this size are a very common by-catch while targeting bream in the eastern estuaries, and are perfect size for a couple of fillets.

 

Most anglers have a 'dream fish' or place they would really love to go and fish. For Customer Barney his dream was to catch a big barra. Barney fulfilled his dream recently while he was in Darwin with his wife Irene. Barney was fishing aboard Vision Charters with skipper Ben when he caught these 2 rippers at 94cm and 95cm. These nice salties were caught trolling hardbodies around the Shoal Bay region just north of Darwin. Nice one Barney!

 

While the southern bluefin tuna fishing can be good in western Victoria, the attraction of jumbo bluefin is what lures gamefisherman to Tasmania. Many of the fish caught around these southern waters are 100kg+ 'barrels' as these fish are regularly caught within a few kilometres from the shoreline. Customer Frank ventured down to the Apple Isle only a couple of weeks ago in search of his own 'barrel' and wasn't disappointed. Frank fished out from Eaglehawk Neck on the southeastern coast of Tasmania and was lucky enough to hook a jumbo sized tuna on his 50W Tiagra. After a 2 hour fight the fish was boated and weighed in at around 120kg. The big fish took a Rapala XRAP 30.

 

The high country and snowy mountains region has been producing some nice trout for anglers persisting the cold and bitter weather. The surrounding areas of Jindabyne and Eucumbene have been producing spawn runs of brown trout making their way up the rivers. Staff member Ian fished with mates Claude and Nick recently in search of a few quality brown trout. Ian fished a tandem fly rig on spin gear, working it through likely runs and pools to land some nice brown trout.

Customers Zoran and Johnny also fished the same technique in the same sorts of areas to land some cracking brown trout, with some of the larger fish weighing nearly 7lb. 

Staff member Dylan also took the trek up to the snowies with mates in search of a few quality trout on lure and fly. Fishing various larger hardbodies like Rapala F series, Dylan caught trout to around 5lb working lures aggressively around deep runs and ledges. Casting tandem fly rigs with added weight off a 5 weight fly rod was tricky in the stiff breeze but Dylan also caught fish around the 5lb mark using this method.



Dylan and mates also fished some smaller water away from the crazy crowds in search of some fun on the 3 weight creek outfits. After a bit of walking and a lot of fish spooking the guys caught some nicely coloured small creek trout and also missed some much larger fish in the 4 - 5lb size. Small tungsten bead headed nymphs fished under a NZ yarn Strike Indicator were effective on the smaller creek fish.

 

The run of tuna along the West coast has been good over the last couple of weeks, the main dilemma has been getting a break in the weather to get out and chase them. In saying that, clear skies and light seas have made for some frustrating fishing with plenty of fish in fairly close and working through bait schools near the surface. In this scenario many anglers are spooking the schools by trolling too close, and with 'standard' tuna sized skirts in the 6 - 8" size many of these fish will refuse to bite. Most of these schools have been feeding on small bait such as whitebait, frogmouth and the occasional small saury or pilchard. In this scenario an engine-off drift with the wind, casting smaller lures like stickbaits, plastics and even jigs to the school can produce results. Sinking stickbaits are a good choice as they can be cast well and worked aggressively across the surface, and if no bites have come they will sink with a seductive flutter through the school and get the bite.


Keep stickbaits and jigs small for finicky surface - feeding tuna, 70 - 130mm is the best size range.

James from Unreel Fishing Charters has spent a few weeks down around Portland and Port Fairy catching tuna with customers, with loads of school sized fish to be caught. James has been finding natural coloured hardbodies and skirts have been more consistent of late, and after a lure top up at the store James was off catching fish again.

Customer Ben fished out from Port Fairy recently with some mates, where they caught some nice bluefin to around 18kg. The better performing lures in the spread were XRAP30's in the 'dorado' colour, with depths around 60m holding good numbers of fish. Customer Mick also fished for the tuna aboard a charter recently to land some school fish in the 10kg size range. Trolled skirts and hardbodies in dark silhouettes were the best on the day.