The offshore waters of western Bass Strait, from Torquay to Cape Otway contain an abundance of species including Australian salmon, snapper, barracouta, King George whiting, yellowtail kingfish, silver trevally, gummy sharks and arrow squid. There are also reasonable numbers of larger sharks like threshers, blues, makos, seven-gill and bronze whalers. The best fishing is from late spring through to autumn, with late summer and early autumn my favourite due to the more settled weather.
Large schools of migratory barracouta follow pilchards and sandy sprats. Hungry and feisty, barracouta are a popular target for anglers who seek them for berley, bait, a feed, or the sport they offer on light line.
On some closer inshore reefs, particularly off Torquay, Anglesea, Lorne and Apollo Bay, you’ll find salmon and sometimes yellowtail kingfish. If you fish with bait, then work these inshore reefs and the sand patches between them for silver trevally, snapper, flathead and King George whiting. Gummy sharks have become more abundant over these inshore reefs and every so often you might hook a thresher shark. Best baits include squid, pilchard pieces and pipis.
The annual run of arrow squid occurs in late summer and runs through autumn. Arrow squid are distinguished from southern calamari squid by their distinctive, arrowhead tail. Arrow squid are more aggressive than calamari and can be caught on jigs, lures and even flies.
Mako and blue sharks are keenly sought from the 50 m line out.
Torquay is a coastal boomtown on the Great Ocean Road, a place better known for swimming and surfing rather than fishing. But there is more to Torquay than riding a wave or getting a suntan. There are some serious fishing opportunities for beach and boat anglers.
An oceanfront boat ramp is located at the western corner of Zeally Bay. It is a public ramp, but the local fishing club also has a tractor, which members use to launch and retrieve boats on the beach when the tide is too far out to use the ramp.
Yellow Bluff and reefs running offshore from this bay and the front beach give the bay some protection from seas, but there is a good case for building a breakwater and extending the ramp to give anglers better access, as the closest boat ramp is in the river at Barwon Heads.
Species caught in the area include King George whiting, salmon, barracouta, arrow squid, snapper, flathead, mulloway, yellowtail kingfish, and blue, mako, bronze whaler, thresher and gummy sharks.
For boat anglers, inshore and offshore fishing can both be productive. Whiting to about 800 g can be caught just a couple of hundred metres offshore, and many anglers head north-east towards Point Impossible to fish for whiting and snapper over the reefs. Offshore from Point Impossible there is a graveyard of shipwrecks that date back to World War II or earlier. Most of these are little more than piles of rust, but they have created reefs that attract all sorts of fish.
Water depth increases quickly out from the ramp and 30 m of water is about 4 km offshore. When you go south-west towards Point Addis, deep water is closer to shore. Large sand and rubble areas are excellent for sand flathead, snapper and gummy sharks. Deeper water is popular for shark fishing and in 40– 60 m you will find good numbers of barracouta and arrow squid.
Next to the ramp, beach fishers have caught mulloway and gummy sharks. Yellow Bluff, immediately west of the ramp, is fishable at low tide. The beaches that run from Yellow Bluff north-east to Point Impossible produce whiting, snapper (mainly pinkies), gummy sharks and mulloway. Favourite beaches along this stretch include ‘the Gap’. Driving along the back of the sand dunes you will notice a gap in the dunes. Park your car here and walk on through. Whites Beach is past the Gap and is popular with nudists. Jan Juc beach, west of Torquay, produces salmon and gummy sharks.