By Mark Gercovich
Spring can be a very schizophrenic month here in the South West of Victoria. We can at times get an early taste of fine, sunny conditions and feel the anticipation of the impending warm months of summer, or it can still be super cold and wet and still feel like the depths of winter.
Here’s a quick run down of four species that local anglers target during this transition time between the winter and summer fisheries.
Research suggests that EP congregate to spawn in the lower reaches of local estuaries in winter. After this fish tend to want to do two things, move back upstream and feed up to put on condition. This makes them an attractive target at this time of year as spring begins to slowly force winter back, and the wide variety of small creatures that make up the perch’s diet become more active. At times, under calmer conditions, the perch respond well to surface lures providing some exciting action. If surface action is on the quieter side, hard bodies or soft plastic will produce fish located on the sounder.
Locations: Hopkins River and Glenelg River.
Lures; Daiwa Double Clutch 60SP and 75SP, Infeet Slippery Dog 65F, Infeet Spike 53SP, Steez Shad 60SP, Bait Junkie 2.5" Minnow and 2.5" Grub.
Although September marks the re-opening of many trout streams in the state, many local trout streams have remained open all winter due to their “sea run” classification. This provides anglers with some fantastic floodwater fishing that can occur throughout winter and into spring at a time when the weather can wipe out all other angling options. Dirty fast running water in most trout locations around the state would put many anglers off, but locally it can result in some trophy trout being taken in the runs, riffles and backwaters where the trout wait for their unsuspecting prey. 7-10cm shallow running hard-bodied lures and paddle-tail soft plastics work best under these conditions. Spring rains often cause this style of fishing to still be available for some time, although watch out for snakes as it gets warmer.
Locations : Lower Merri, Upper Hopkins, Mount Emu Creek.
Lures: Presso minnow 95, Duo Realis 80, Bait Junkie 2.5 and 3.2 minnows.
If walking the rivers for trophy trout isn’t your game there is also some fantastic lake fishing occurring at this time of year. Depending on the lake where you are fishing a wide variety of salmonids are taken as fish continue to stack on weight after finishing their spawning, or attempted spawning behavior. Casting towards the shallow margins or weed beds is a great way to target cruising fish looking for a spring feed.
Locations: Bullen Merri, Purrembete, Elingamite Lakes.
Lures:, Daiwa Double Clutch 75SP, Presso Minnow 60 and 95, Duo Realis 80, OSP Bent Minnow.
Mulloway are best targeted most of the year locally but I've always enjoyed late spring. If you’re after your first taste of mulloway fishing it’s hard to go past the Glenelg River. You are likely to encounter fish from 3-6kg with the odd larger fish approaching 10kg. Slow trolling live bait or bibbed lures, anchoring and berlying while using fresh bait, or using soft plastic techniques all have their moments. Be observant as to what technique is working the best when you are there. Other likely mulloway locations around the coast are also worth trying at this time of the year.
Locations: Glenelg River, Portland Bay, Narrawong Beach, Moyne River.
Baits/lures: live mullet, Bait Junkie 2.5" and 3.2" Minnows and 4" Grubs, Double Clutch 75SP and 95SP.
Peak snapper season in the south west usually starts a little after Port Phillip Bay kicks into gear in spring, which works well if you want to do a little of both. Most snapper taken locally are in the “pinky” size range (700g-1.4kg) and can provide great entertainment on light gear and soft plastic lure techniques in shallower, inshore waters from 4-10m deep. Portland Bay and the Lee breakwater however do produce some XOS snapper in the 6-10kg range every season around this time of year. Using fresh baits and putting in long hours at night, or around tide changes, can produce the big red of your dreams.
Locations: Portland Breakwall, Portland Harbour, North Shore Portland, offshore Warrnambool to Port Fairy
Baits/lures: Fresh salmon, barracuda and squid, Bait Junkie 3.2" Minnows and 4" Grubs.