This has been one crazy season for weather with December seeing some very tropical weather and rainfall that turned the bay into a bowl of chocolate milk.
On the upside however it didn’t seem to slow the fishing with some crazy snapper bites happening over recent weeks.
With the onset of January and the Christmas holidays this month will see a lot of anglers changing their focus to other species with whiting and yellowtail kingfish being two prime targets.
Both Mordialloc and Beaumaris piers have both been a little inconsistent, mainly due to the large flushes of fresh water pumping into the bay after flooding rain, however when the water has cleared up there have been a few whiting and some garfish on offer. If we can get a break in the rain for a few weeks the fishing off these piers should be great over the summer holidays.
December saw some of the best snapper fishing you could ever hope to see out in the boats, with bucket loads of school-sized fish on offer out in the deeper water. The shallower areas in the 7-12m depths consistently produced numbers of big snapper in the 5-7kg bracket.
The absolute standout however was a thumper of a fish taken by local legend Ian Jones who was helping out with some fisheries surveys on the new Artificial reef up off Aspendale (known as Rec Reef) when he had five rods take off one morning with one of the snapper being a massive 12.3kg in weight. Jonesy proved it was no fluke with the following weeks producing several more fish in the 6-7kg bracket in the same area.
These shallow areas should continue to hold numbers of big snapper over the coming weeks and I would seriously suggest trying for some whiting on the artificial reefs during January as well as fishing a live bait for a yellowtail kingfish.
Up on the shallow reefs running from Mordialloc to Black Rock now is the time to get serious on the whiting, with numbers of fish being found through the whole area.
It’s also the time to have a shot at the local kingfish population, which should make their presence felt over the coming weeks as they harass the garfish.
Throughout January we should hopefully see the Australian salmon schools move into the area, which will provide some red hot sports fishing action, not to mention a great place to find a kingfish as they lurk beneath the schools.
Whiting will become the flavour of the month in the Sandringham area with locations such as Yorkies Reef and out on the Anonyma Shoal already producing good catches of whiting over the past weeks.
Out wider there has been some amazing snapper action over the past weeks with the edge of the shipping lane holding huge schools of snapper. We have also heard of the odd mulloway being caught in the region of the Fawkner Beacon, as well as one story of an absolute monster being lost at the boat after it wore through the leader.
Out in the deep water you will also notice lots of schools of baitfish on your sounder, and while a lot of them are whitebait and pilchards, at present there is also heaps of slimy mackerel and big garfish out there. These are easily caught while waiting for a snapper bite with either a small bait under a float or with a small Sabiki jig and needless to say its hard to get a better bait than a fresh live or dead gar or slimy.
Up off Brighton the breakwall has been producing the odd small gummy shark and the occasional snapper for land-based anglers, although it seems strange that it hasn’t been better when anglers fishing a kilometre offshore have been catching numbers of quality fish.
On the shallow reefs heading up towards North Road boat ramp have been great for some quality squid and some really big garfish.
Over the coming month its also a prime time two work the shallow areas with soft plastics for some quality flathead as they happily hunt and feed in water less than 2m deep.
This end of the bay has been a little slower than expected through December with a continuous procession of heavy storms keeping this part of the bay looking more like a flooding river than Port Phillip, however there have been some very good reports of big snapper feeding in the shallow waters off St Kilda Breakwall and up off Kerford Road Pier, with the 8-12m areas holding the big fish.
Best of all with the dirty water the fishing isn’t just confined to late at night with some of the best bites being on dawn and dusk as the snapper can comfortably feed in the lower light conditions generated by all the fresh water.
Over the coming weeks with the water clearing it should see the whiting really start to fire up in close to shore. While up towards Station and Princess piers this month should see some snapper and mulloway move into the area to feed on the abundant bait at night, its also a great place to fish into the dark on northerly winds as you are protected by the city.
If you are also keen to get your arms stretched then this month its also worth fishing along the edge of the channel heading towards the P2 with plenty of big bronze whaler sharks patrolling the edge.
Lets hope that the fishing through January and into February is as good as it was before Christmas so you can give all your new Xmas presents a real workout.Reads: 2003