Beach fishing species here are the same as Torquay, with the best fishing east of the Anglesea River, although you need to be aware of the marine park that extends west from Point Addis.
But most anglers go here to fish the Anglesea River for black bream and yelloweye mullet, with the best fishing from the highway bridge upstream. A boat ramp is situated at Point Roadknight. Partially protected by the point, launching is difficult due to sand and swell, and the ramp is best suited to small boats.
Next stop is Aireys Inlet, just out of Anglesea, where the highway crosses Painkalac Creek. This small creek is popular with bream anglers who fish mainly along the western bank from the highway bridge downstream. Further along, beaches at Moggs Creek and Eastern View, alongside the Great Ocean Road sign, are popular but shallow, and salmon is the mainstay of the catch.
From Eastern View to Lorne there are many rock ledges and these produce big King George whiting, mullet, silver trevally, snapper and salmon at different times of the year. Winter is a top time for salmon but when they are not on the bite, garfish are a good alternative.
Catching garfish from the rocks requires specialist techniques and the Great Ocean Road hosts a small number of specialist garfish anglers who have developed their techniques to a fine art. From late summer to the start of winter some of the biggest garfish you are likely to see are caught here – fish in excess of 50 cm and so thick that you can’t touch your thumb with your finger when you hold them.
The first time I came across this style of garfish fishing was at Reedy Creek, a few kilometres east of Lorne. Anglers who fish for ‘gars’ use light outfits. The rod is normally about 2.2 m long and the line has about 3 kg breaking strain. The rig consists of a float and a leader of 1.2–2 m. Some anglers prefer to use berley floats instead of pencil floats as these are packed with berley that draws the garfish to the bait. Hooks range from No. 8 through to No. 14: the smaller the garfish, the smaller the hook you may need to employ. In the deeper channels, a small amount of split shot on the leader helps to get the bait down deeper.
Bait is usually a small white bug known as a sand flea or sand hopper. Sand hoppers are found in the sand beneath rotting kelp. The best time to get them is on cold mornings when they barely move and you can pick them up easily. Once the day warms, these little bugs start jumping about.
To store sand hoppers, put sand in a bucket and they will stay under the sand. When you want a couple for bait, simply move the sand aside and grab them.
Another favourite bait is maggots and during the warmer months these can be found among the rotting kelp weed on the rocks. If the weed is being washed by waves on the high tide it can be a top spot to fish as the waves pounding over the kelp will wash maggots into the ocean, creating a natural food trail that will bring garfish in.