Torquay is situated around 100km south west of Melbourne, in between Geelong and Anglesea on the Great Ocean Road. The fishing here can be spectacular on occasion but many anglers drive through the town to other so-called ‘greener pastures’ further a field.
Torquay is blessed with some beautiful beaches that can turn on great winter salmon fishing, and also good chances at gummy shark, snapper and King George whiting throughout the warmer months.
Spring Creek is the major waterway that runs through Torquay. It is quite small and its entrance into Bass Strait is often a trickle and can close over during periods of low rainfall. The bream in this river are quite large and aggressive, but as it is a small and fragile estuary, catch and release is a good idea.
The offshore scene is the jewel in the crown of this seaside town. A whiting under 40cm is rare, snapper over 9kg have already been taken this season, the sharks are thick out past the 50m mark, while salmon, ‘couta and calamari are all ‘stand by’ species. So, what are you waiting for?
The biggest problem here is the lack of adequate launching facilities. There is a boat ramp at Fisherman’s Beach in Zeally Bay, which is only good for launching small to medium craft at high tide when there is no swell; low tide can mean a good 50m plus trundle to the water.
Torquay Angling Club have their club house right on Zeally Bay (The Esplanade) and charge a modest fee of $4 for ramp use. The club has a tractor at their disposal that is capable of launching the Queen Mary (well, almost) from this beach and this is open for use to all members. Club members are often there on weekends, so if you think you may like to join up, membership forms are readily available.
For those with use of a 2WD vehicle, back your craft (the smaller the better) most of the way down the ramp and hand wheel it the rest of the way to the water. This is where relatively light boats, a good strong mate (who likes standing in waist deep water at 5am while you park the jalopy) and large jockey wheels come in handy!
Zeally Bay is a shallow beach that is sheltered from most of the southern swell by Point Danger. It is littered with small reef structures, which makes it ideal for whiting and snapper anglers alike. Low tides of around 0.5m and below give shore-based anglers the opportunity to flick baits out using surf casting tackle. Snapper and whiting are regular captures for those that fish here when a low tide corresponds with low light. The place is also crawling with blue throat wrasse, which can be a menace some times, but you just have to take the good with the bad.
A small tinnie can really open up the doors to some great fishing off this beach and if you can man-handle a larger craft in or make the journey over from Barwon Heads in anything over 5m, sharks are a real force offshore at this time of year.
Remember to pick your weather and if the forecast is for anything over 15 knots from any direction other than north or northwest, stick to the surf or estuary fishing. By far the best conditions are light northwesters (offshore) or no wind at all and preferably no swell, as even small waves breaking here are troublesome when launching boats. If there is a light swell (2 foot is too big – trust me!), back your boat so its stern is at about 45° to the incoming waves. This way, the waves don’t thump into the transom and fill the boat although you may need two people to hang onto it.
Calamari also frequent these shallow reef areas and are well worth a shot no matter what time of year. Your best bet is to find a patch of reef and drift over it casting jigs. You should also have one or more out on floats in the rod holders, set between 1-3m deep. I haven’t had a squid totally refuse a colour here - I’ve caught them on just about all shades - but they do show preferences on different days.
The King George whiting here can be awesome. I know of fish taken that have been around 1.3kg and 50cm plus! An average fish would be around 43cm, which is very nice indeed. Bag limits here are rare and these fish tend to be caught in numbers around 6 to 12 during summer. Best baits include fresh squid, mussel and pipi, in conjunction with a liberal sprinkling of berley. A mixture of chook pellets, water and tuna oil will bring them about without too many problems.
Rigs can be a simple paternoster with either a stainless or red anodized #4 or #6 long shank bait holder hook on about a 40cm leader. Sinkers need not be heavy as tidal flow is minimal in the shallows. A red bead or 1cm piece of tubing over the line, sliding down onto the hook can act as a good fish attractor for King George as well.
Snapper can be taken in less that 3ft of water here on dusk and surf anglers can do quite well fishing during low tide periods that coincide with dawn or dusk. The bigger snapper seem to turn up around November and often don’t stick around for too long. Having said that, this year has seen more than the usual amount of fish over 4kg taken.
Paternoster rigs with a 1/0 or 2/0 single hook baited with a whole bluebait, squid or whitebait have done well for me from the shore here. A second hook with the long shank hook is also a good idea as the whiting come in close on dusk as well.
Snapper are best targeted early in the morning and seem to go off the bite about 1 hour after sunrise. They can still be caught out past depths of 40m while drifting, but barracouta can be a real menace here.
Point Impossible (about 5-8km northeast from the boat ramp towards Barwon Heads) has a great reef system that can cough up some real rippers. Find yourself a nice drop off and berley like crazy. The bottom here can be quite snaggy so unweighted baits should save a bit of tackle.
Jan Juc is just over the river on the way to Anglesea and if you hang a left just after the golf course, this can lead you down to the surf beach. The best place to send a line out is just in front of the surf lifesaving club. The turn off to the club is on the left, just before the main car parks overlooking Jan Juc surf beach.
Jan Juc surf beach also has some good reef areas about 1km out from the surf club for boats that launch at Fisherman’s Beach. Smaller snapper can be taken from this beach around dawn and dusk as well as some very handy sized salmon. The fishing area on this stretch of beach is fairly limited due to the reef, number of surfers and high tide, which can see water right up to the cliffs on occasions.
Best surf set-up for me has been a single hook paternoster rig with a relatively light star sinker holding it in place. You can fish fairly lightly here, as there is rarely any current or big surf. You can either fish ganged 5/0 hooks with a whole pilchard or single 1/0 or 2/0 with a whole glassie or bluebait. If you feel you need a second hook on your rig, sneak a surf popper on the top as this can attract a lot of fish to your bait.
Torquay has a marine park on the end of Point Danger and the area offshore from and including Point Addis Beach (turn off to Bells Beach just out of town on the way to Anglesea).
For a complete run down on these areas including GPS marks, please visit http://www.parkweb.vic.gov.au/ or phone (03) 8627 4699.
Spring Creek runs right beside the golf course and further upstream, the footy oval.
I have seen a very large and very fast luderick in here, some fat bream pushing 40cm and hoards of small mullet and salmon to keep the kids busy. The river remains clear for most of the year except for periods of high rainfall. It is not very wide or deep so catch and release is the way to go to protect these fragile estuaries. The widest part right at the mouth has a walking track crossing it which doubles as a handy fishing platform. Just keep the path clear as children, cyclists and walkers use this small bridge. If the river doesn’t see much seawater, it soon chokes up with a green sludge that can blanket the margins of the river. This doesn’t seem to bother the fish, but can make lure casting and bank fishing very difficult.
The river doesn’t see much water flow unless the mouth is open so rigs can be sinker free; use one as light as the current will allow.
Hooks should be as sharp as possible as these bream have very hard, bony mouths. Best baits for me here have been bass yabbies, local minnow and earthworms fished after dark. Best lures have been paddle tailed grubs in fluoro green and orange fish with sharp erratic movements and Garry Glitter Squidgies fished really slowly. Mirror finish lures have done okay for me in this river also, so grab a couple of these if they are available where you buy your tackle.
Torquay is basically set up to cater for the tourist and there are some great caravan parks right on the beaches. Motels are everywhere and there are often a few holiday houses up for rent if you check out the local real estate agents.