At last the yellowbelly season is off and running with reports coming in from all of the usual spots of fish taking lures and bait — and even some bigger sized fish being bagged by anglers who have been forced to endure a slow start to the season.
Yellowbelly are an ambush predator and tend to be found close to structures such as snags and rocky ledges where they can hide and wait for their dinner to swim past.
If using a lure, a slow retrieve is essential, and bait such as worms, shrimp or yabbies should be bobbed or drifted around a likely spot.
If there are no bites within a few minutes, move to another spot.
There is a bag and size limit on yellowbelly. The minimum size is 30cm and the bag limit is five fish per person.
Also known as golden perch, yellowbelly have been known to grow to more than 10kg but fish of this size are rare.
The smaller fish are better for the table, because, like cod, they develop a bad-tasting band of fat which must be trimmed before cooking.
Yellowbelly can be found in lakes and dams as well as most rivers in our region and are widespread across South Australia, Victoria, NSW and Queensland.
Like all perch, yellowbelly are a good fighting fish and if caught on light gear can provide anglers with a lot of fun. Even the smaller fish put up a respectable tussle.
Anglers fishing for yellowbelly might also catch cod, but with the season for cod being closed these fish must be returned to the water unharmed.
The cod season remains closed until midnight on November 30, with the exception of Lake Eildon where the usual size and bag limits still apply.
As the channels and rivers begin to fire up, fishing at places such as Eildon and Waranga Basin are still worth a try, with redfin as well as yellowbelly being caught. At Eildon, some trout are also being taken but mainly in the early morning before the day gets too warm.
Lake Dartmouth has been fishing hot and cold, with some anglers reporting good numbers of trout while others miss out.
Trolling a bunch of worms or a mudeye behind a Ford Fender is still the preferred method, and once again early morning is the best time.
Fishing the rivers and streams in the north-east is worth a try, and casting bait or lures is resulting in good bags of rainbow and brown trout.
Minnow-style lures as well as small bladed types are working as well as a scrub worm or mudeye.
At Queenscliff, Peter Smallwood — who is back on deck following his annual holidays — said the snapper were still patchy with few big fish, but some around pinky size were being caught along the inshore reefs off Ocean Grove and Point Lonsdale.
Peter said the main run of snapper was still a couple of weeks away.
Rod Lawn from Adamas Fishing Charters reported some gummy shark off Point Lonsdale near the submarine dive site.
He said fresh fish fillets and squid were the best bait to use.
Rod added that inside the heads squid and wrasse were being caught along the grass beds between the Lonsdale jetty and The Cottage as well as on the opposite side of the heads at Portsea and Point Nepean.
It was a similar story around Western Port, with some pinky snapper along the edges of the shipping lanes off Hastings and some whiting and squid along the inshore grass beds, however none of the charter boats were operating yet as they wait for the snapper run.
North of the border at Eden, John Liddell said it was still business as usual for bottom-bouncing with the usual snapper and morwong being caught between Boyd’s Lookout and Green Cape. He said the boys from Freedom Charters were also getting among schools of kingfish, and skipper Mark said live bait and knife jigs were getting the best results.
At Narooma Graham Cowley said that when the boats were able to go offshore the fishing along the inshore reefs was good with snapper, flathead and other reef fish being bagged as well as kingfish which were being found just north of Montague Island.
When it is unsafe to go offshore, anglers are fishing for flathead and bream around the oyster leases in the lake.
James Luddington from Flinders Island said flathead and gummy shark were the staple catches around Lady Baron.
He said snapper were starting to get on the move and salmon were patrolling the surf beaches near Chapel Island.