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Quality Whiting
  |  First Published: March 2011



Just to keep things interesting, the weather threw a few more curve balls over the past month, continuing the trend of this summer.

Going over the reports over the summer months, the common trend is of often-limited fishing opportunities and unseasonably tropical weather at times.

My mum always says that rain is “good for the garden”, and the massive weeds growing throughout my yard are living proof of that. Even though all us fishos know that the excessive rain we have been treated to this summer is great for the bay’s food chain, I reckon we’d like a break and some clearer water as well.

During the recent Docklands Vic Bream Classic we were treated to nearly 200mm of rain on the evening before the competition! Needless to say, fishing was tough although it was interesting checking out the various items floating down the Yarra and Maribyrnong, even freezers and roadwork’s markers!

Snapper

With all the gloom however, the fishing has still been first class over the past month or so. As was the pattern over the past few months, the bulk of the interest and the angler’s attention is still amongst the snapper. Expect this trend to continue for a little while to come yet too.

Traditionally we get a late run of snapper around Easter, and with the noticeable shift in the weather patterns, and the availability of food along the eastern seaboard, I would expect this run to be a little later. In fact, don’t be surprised if the run of smaller school sized fish continues through until winter.

The most notable and consistent reports of snapper seem to be from the wider marks, especially through the middle of the day. These fish have consistently been in the 1-3kg range, and as per the last few months have been responding well to a strong stream of berley and smaller baits.

I have noticed some stronger currents this season, which may be a result of dredging, seasonal factors, or even an imminent invasion from Mars. But whatever the reason, if the current is a little stronger, especially in the channel, don’t be afraid to use a little more weight to keep your baits near the bottom.

Pre-rigged arrangements like the Snapper Snatcher from Black Magic can also be great in these conditions, as fish will normally hook themselves.

Pinkies on inner reefs

For the sports angler, and especially the kayak angler, there are still loads of pinkies available on the inshore reefs, although frequent doses of dirty water has made these areas a little inconsistent. Trolled lures can be great when the water is dirty, and also gives anglers the chance of hooking a variety of fish in the shallows.

Expect to find salmon and pike, especially close to the fringe of shoreline reefs, and flathead and red mullet from the patchier formations. Loud colours like gold, pink, chartreuse and orange are all worth a try, and don’t be shy to try these same colours out wide for a bigger snapper too, especially if you have a downrigger on the boat.

Australian salmon and garfish

Plenty of land-based anglers have also reported Australian salmon and garfish right along the eastern shoreline, and although the mighty Mornington Pier is still out of action, Seaford and Frankston piers have been producing good numbers of fish.

Best bet for salmon is when the weather is rough, conversely, the garfish prefer calmer conditions but once again berley is essential for success.

Quality Whiting

Probably the best development this season has been the quality of the whiting available right throughout Port Phillip, and this pattern has definitely continued this month.

Trev and Lynette Hogan sent in a great photo of a young junior with a ripper catch taken out from Frankston, and I have had many reports from land-based anglers taking similar-sized whiting, especially on dusk from various beaches and sandy bays.

Mornington and Mount Martha seem to be the pick of the areas, particularly out from Sunnyside, and further south around Bird Rock Beach.

My young mate Mark Bolger has also been giving the whiting and squid a hard time out in his Hobie kayak, catching some lovely fish to the good old 40cm mark! Mark reports that the change of tide has been the key, as well as fresh baits of squid and pippies. And while we’re talking about whiting Mark, I’m still waiting for my fillets!

Squid

The squid have been a little sketchy of late, as they don’t seem to like the dirty water. It does clear very quickly after rain, but the squid will tend to hold on deeper reefs when the water is discoloured. Look for dense reef in about 5-6m near your favourite reef and you wont be far away. A colour sounder is crucial in this regard, and the best reef will display a bold red band on your screen. The really good units, especially side imaging sounders will even show up schools of squid. Brighter jigs and plenty of scent will also help your cause.

Don’t be put off by the rain and weather conditions over the next month or so, there are still plenty of options out on the bay.

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