Despite vast amounts of discoloured freshwater and debris spilling into Port Phillip over the past few months, the warm inshore reefs and shallow sand flats continue to fire.
Shortly after the rain cleared, anglers with suitable craft were out prospecting the dirty water line that has produced some remarkable results over the past month.
If it’s variety you’re after, you really can’t beat the range of species on offer along the western flank of Port Phillip during March. King George whiting and larger than average southern blue spot flathead will continue to feed in the shallows from Point Cook through to Avalon.
Garfish are likely to be a common by-catch for those targeting whiting and, somewhat surprisingly, quite a few gummy sharks are taken in similar fashion at this time of year. Increasing numbers of pinkie snapper are also expected to take up residence on the inshore reefs between Williamstown and Point Cook this month.
Australian salmon have continued their assault on the local baitfish population in the lead up to autumn. Although they’re not the most highly rated table fish, salmon can be terrific fun on light spin gear, especially when you find them competing with one another for a feed. Trolling traditional metal slices and skirted lures will produce fish, but it’s also worth experimenting with soft plastics, sinking stickbaits, diving minnows and various surface presentations.
Whispers of yellowtail kingfish are gradually starting to filter through as increasing numbers have been sighted or hooked and lost in recent times. Areas such as Ricketts Point, Black Rock, Altona, Point Cook, Point Wilson, Corio Bay and Port Phillip Heads have the potential to produce kings at this time of year, particularly in areas that hold larger concentrations of baitfish and schooling salmon.
Local kayak enthusiast, Richard Linossi, caught his first kingie while working a 100mm Squidgy Fish over a rocky ledge in the northwest region of Port Phillip recently. Richard also experienced a few brief encounters with larger hoodlums that were far too powerful for his lightweight spin gear.
Since the recent flooding event, Melbourne’s resident bream population have made a steady comeback and should continue feeding hard until well after Easter. Pinkie snapper and school mulloway are also expected to start moving into the lower reaches of the Yarra and Maribyrnong rivers.
While reports of snapper have thinned out a little, worm and baitfish profile soft plastics have accounted for plenty of pinkies in 4-6m of water off Williamstown. Out wider, snapper to 3kg are still available on pilchards and silver whiting. Michael Felsovary reports that reasonable numbers have been taken out towards Fawkner Beacon, although the bite is expected to slow up over the coming month.
Schools of Australian salmon and the odd tailor have been providing excellent sport fishing options for anglers trolling or casting lures in the area from Altona Pier through to Apex Park. Pinkie snapper, flathead and the odd gummy shark have also been lurking beneath the salmon schools.
Anglers fishing among the discoloured water just out from the Werribee River mouth have been recording consistent bags of King George whiting. These fish have been averaging 32-36cm, with the odd specimen pushing 45cm. The most productive baits of late include pipi, mussel and cuttlefish. A few gummy sharks have also been taken closer to Campbells Cove on fresh salmon fillets and cured eel.
Casting soft plastics along the shallow reefs at Point Cook has been productive for pinkie snapper. In amongst countless juveniles, Brad Hodges and I have managed a few fish to 50cm, as well as the odd snook and flathead. First light coupled with a tide change has produced the most consistent action, particularly on days where there’s a relatively stiff breeze to create some surface chop.
Persistent rain and flash flooding certainly posed a few challenges for inner-city land-based anglers earlier in the year, but since the mid-January deluge, a much more stable weather pattern has finally given the metropolitan rivers a chance to settle.
Bream to 35cm have been responding well at times to unweighted mussel and small vibration style lures inside Victoria Harbour. More consistent action, however, has been experienced further downstream where fish to 40cm have been taken among the moored yachts and jetty pylons at Williamstown.
Ryan Scarborough reports that the Maribyrnong River has been fishing fairly well with both lure and bait anglers getting among the bream. Shortly after the floods, a few redfin, carp and eels were caught in the brackish water at Essendon, which is highly unusual.
At this stage there’s still a significance amount of discoloured freshwater pushing down the Werribee River but it should be much clearer by March. A few flathead have been taken on the shallow sand flats at the mouth of the system, while small salmon have also been spotted harassing baitfish along the edge of the boating channel.
As long as the rain stays away, it won’t be long before the resident bream resume feeding further upriver. Concentrating your efforts around the higher tides should start to produce a few fish as the water clarity improves.
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