Recent times have been quite productive but like usual the snapper hit spawning mode, sending them very quiet.
It was at this point many anglers decided to turn to the dark side and fish for other prized species. I guess there is only so many snapper you can catch before getting sick of them.
King George whiting was the next target and there is no doubt that this season we are really seeing the positive effects of the netting ban.
The popular whiting haunts such as the Quail and Tyabb banks, Tooradin Channel, Middle Spit, Tortoise Head Bank and Coronet Bay are all producing well.
I received a report from Brayden Frazer who had been fishing around Coronet Bay with excellent success. Brayden reported that the whiting are going strong in the area and he managed his bag of whiting ranging 34-44cm with Bass yabbies and pipis being the most productive baits.
Staff members from Tackle World Cranbourne, Mitch Chapman and Aaron Sammut went in search around Reef Island. The boys had a great trip boating 20 whiting to 38cm with pipis being most productive.
While the reports were quite consistent from the Coronet bay area, the rest of the Port was showing signs that it is going to be a pumper season.
I headed out and took my girls for a fish with Gawaine Blake from Think Big Charters. With only an hour or so to spare, we ducked out before dark to the Middle Spit. After casting her rod, Asha-Marie (4) hooked her first ever whiting within about a minute from setting the anchor. From there, the fishing was mayhem with Mum (Angie), Kyla, Asha, I and Gawaine all baiting hooks, casting and bringing some great fish onboard.
While it was hard enough coaching the littlies on how to wind and cast, we caught a dozen nice whiting using whiting worms and pipis. I also had the new finalised Black Magic Whiting Snatcher rig and I can honestly say, it actually caught more fish that my regular rigs. Better yet due to the kids not being able to strike, using the circle hooks made it a guarantee that they would hook-up.
Most gummies earlier in summer were caught as a by-catch but still provided some great entertainment. Fish in the 5-8kg range were a common catch. Most of the table fare-sized fish came from the Rhyll area while larger fish were being caught from the North Arm and Western Entrance.
Justin and his mate Vince managed a magnificent gummy shark while fishing during the night off Lysaghts. After just minutes of being at anchor, the boys hooked up but fishing with light tackle were busted off very quickly. After re-rigging with heavier tackle the rod took off and after a short battle landed a magnificent gummy shark.
Gawaine Blake and Brendan Wing headed out and decided to see what was lurking in the depths of the Western Entrance. Some of the impressive captures have been many gummies to 21kg, snapper to 7.5kg and an even and elusive 23kg school shark. Gawaine and Winga also took their kids out and managed Asher Blake (6) and Billie Wing-Smith (6) both battling and landing 17kg gummy sharks caught on the exact same day in different boats. Asher also got a 5kg snapper off Lysaghts. All fish were released.
February is the time to head offshore in search of mako, blue and thresher sharks. There have already been some reports of makos being caught on the 50m line and smaller boats have been able to access them just outside the Eastern Entrance.
Big Tezz and his son Andrew headed out of the Eastern Entrance. The Eastern Entrance allows anglers to access deep water within only a few kilometres of the entrance meaning makos, blues and threshers come closer to shore. The boys put in a hard day’s work raising a nice fish, which lost interest in their bait, while they did report another boat brought in a 30kg mako to the ramp. With reports coming in steadily this early, I’m predicting we will be in for a bumper season.
If these are out of reach, there is still plenty of other species worth targeting offshore. The Flinders Bank is a great location to drift for tiger flathead and while they will be in great numbers, the by-catch of barracouta and silver whiting is welcomed. Silver whiting are rarely targeted in Bass Strait but during February and March they in greater numbers. While the majority will range in size, some specimens can be 30-32cm, which is big for this species.
Anglers looking to target silvers are best to use a paternoster rig tied from 15lb fluorocarbon with size 10 long shank hooks. You will require sinkers up to 6oz so make sure you have a suitable rod, not a nibble tip as this is not standard whiting fishing. These fish are mostly found in 15-25m of water over sand.
Inside Western Port it is the time for big breeding female gummy sharks. Anglers wanting to catch one need to understand that when fishing for gummies, a great deal of patients is required. A running sinker rig with size 6/0 circle hooks works extremely well in the fast currents as striking to set the hook can be difficult.
Big gummies will test your tackle to its limit so although it sounds heavy upgrade your leader to 80lb for abrasive resistance against their skin and the reefy bottom.
These big gummies are the life line of our fishery and I can only stress so much how important they be photographed and released.
Whatever you do, however you catch it I would love to hear about it. If you’d like to report your catch along with any photos you can do so by emailing me at --e-mail address hidden-- or by text message to 0427 693 759.Reads: 5784