What a horrible start to the year.
Of course, I am referring to the bushfires that have been raging for the past couple of weeks, with no real sign of them being brought under control.
What is needed is some heavy, widespread rain, to help the monumental effort our firefighters have been making to protect life and property.
Next time you go fishing make yourself aware of the conditions before you go.
Fires can start anywhere at any time; lightning, careless campers and malicious thrill-seekers can spark a fire.
Remain alert and be ready to get out should there be any sign of danger.
Fishing over the past week has been better than expected in the Goulburn, with a metre-plus cod caught around Murchison and a similar sized fish caught at the cemetery bend near the golf course in Shepparton.
Both fish were caught by angling a lump of cheese, and both fish were released.
A large number of juvenile fish have also been caught in what has been a great start to this year's fishing, most on bait including shrimp, yabbies, and cheese, and some fish have been caught by anglers using spinner baits.
But in the main it has been bait that has been the most productive.
Eildon is crowded with holiday-makers and this is making fishing a little tougher. Early morning is the best time to fish with there being fewer boats on the water and it is the preferred time for the fish to feed.
Redfin are on the bite at Waranga Basin.
In the main they are small fish but bigger ones are among the catch.
Trolling a red or purple coloured lure — making sure it is bouncing along the bottom — is the best way to find fish; when located, soft plastic baits and lures are all getting results.
Dartmouth is also worth a try if you are after trout but be aware there are bushfires in that area so make sure it is safe to go to that part of the state.
The same goes for any of the rivers and streams in the North East.
The Murray River is producing nice cod around Ulupna Island and also where the Broken Creek runs into the river around Nathalia.
I did hear of one youngster who caught his first cod and in the process christened a brand new rod — a gift from a doting grandfather.
While only 28 cm, it was a fish he hooked and landed all by himself — after a photograph, it was released to grow bigger.
Saltwater fishing is going gangbusters, according to Rod Lawn from Adamas Fishing Charters at Queenscliff.
Rod said he was still bagging plenty of snapper — mostly pinky size, with an occasional bigger fish among the catch.
He said there was also trevally and whiting around the mouth of the creek at the ferry terminal and squid among the grass beds on both sides of the heads.
Rod said flathead were caught offshore on the sandy bottom and there were early signs of kingfish from around the submarine dive site off Point Lonsdale and also in the back end of the rip where there were also schools of salmon feeding on the krill and bait fish on the run-out tide.
From Western Port Bay it is similar; however, one report said a local hooked more than 30 snapper while fishing of San Remo at Phillip Island but these were undersized and were released.
At Hastings, it was join the queue at the ramp to launch a boat but the wait was worthwhile, with whiting being caught along the grass beds.
North of the border, John Liddell said most of the coast had been affected by the bushfires and this had deterred many anglers.
Up until recently they were catching snapper and flathead as well as morwong and kingfish.
John said the boys from Freedom Charters were yet to head out to the shelf in search of marlin.
Graham Cowley said at Narooma they too had been affected by the fires and reports were patchy, with inshore reef fishing being reasonable, while off the shelf it had been quiet but there were signs of marlin and yellowfin tuna.
At Flinders Island, James Luddington reported plenty of flathead and gummy shark.
He said there were also salmon and an occasional kingfish around the islands off Lady Baron.
He said the hour-long boat trip to the shelf was worthwhile, with trumpeter and albacore being angled in the deep water.
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