After months of speculation and anticipation following the floods, the stormwater runoff has finally settled and Melbourne’s metropolitan rivers appear primed for some sensational autumn fishing.
As the last of the floodwaters clear, many of the bream that pushed out into the bay during summer rains have returned to the estuaries and resumed feeding along the rocky margins in the lower to middle reaches of both the Yarra and Maribyrnong rivers. Anglers can also expect to find bream lurking around the bridge pylons, floating pontoons and the base of wooden jetties.
Further upstream, concentrating your efforts closer to more natural features such as reed banks, overhanging shrubs and snags should produce some good fish over the coming month.
Just as the snapper bite begins to slow down in the bay, schools of pinkie snapper move into the shallow inshore reefs and some even venture up into rivers. These fish generally hold close to structure downstream of the Bolte Bridge, although the will also follow bait much further upstream, particularly on the higher tides.
Over the past few years, pinkies averaging 1 to 2kg, along with the odd larger specimen, have been taken in good numbers on various soft plastics, flesh baits and mussels.
Regarded by many as the ultimate urban estuary prize, school mulloway are also likely to be on the prowl in the rivers this month. Half an hour either side of the slack tide seems to be the prime time, but the presence of baitfish and structure is perhaps the most critical factor.
While some dedicated crews specifically target these inner city predators with live baits, juvenile mulloway have become a reasonably common by-catch for those pitching lures and soft plastics at bream over the past few months.
For those prospecting the inshore reefs, my diary indicates that flathead should continue to fire in the shallows, particularly along the stretch from Point Cook through to Werribee South. Looking back to this time last year, fish to 55cm were a common catch on soft plastics during the first two hours of the run out tide. Pinkie snapper, salmon, whiting, and snook should continue to provide good sport on the reefs from Williamstown to Altona, while squid are expected to make a welcome return to shallow weed beds as the bay continues to clear.
Land-based anglers can also expect a few silver trevally and yellow-eye mullet to start showing up around the piers and jetties at Williamstown and further up the Yarra River at Docklands.
Increasing numbers of pinkie snapper, along with a few King George whiting, have been taken on the inshore reefs between Williamstown and Altona recently. After launching from Newport, Martyn Sammit and his cousin found a hungry school of pinkie snapper eager to intercept a range of soft plastics in just 2-4m of water off Altona. This was the first time Martyn had experienced any sort of success on soft plastics and the boys returned to the ramp with a dozen pinkies to 41cm and a handful of solid whiting.
Ryan Scarborough also confirms there are plenty of pinkie snapper available on the inner reefs with fish to 50cm taken on soft plastics, and the odd larger fish to 7.5kg taken out wider off Williamstown.
Altona Pier has been a hot spot for land-based anglers of late with pinkies, bream, flathead and the odd salmon taken on small hard-bodied lures and soft plastics. According to Michael Felsovary, larger schools of salmon can also be found harassing baitfish just out from Apex Park.
After a terrific run of whiting earlier in the year, Point Cook and Werribee South have been hit and miss lately, although a few fish have been taken out a little wider than usual in 5-6m of water. By far the most consistent action has come from the Avalon region and again the best baits have been mussels and pipi.
Flathead averaging 40-45cm have been taken on whitebait from the shore at Werribee South. Out wider, Michael Felsovary also mentioned that a few snapper to 5kg have been taken on pilchards in 21m of water off Werribee South.
Despite driving rain and a minor flood warning for the Yarra River, anglers competing in Round 1 of the Vic Bream Classic held in Melbourne still managed to find a few fish around the piers and jetty pylons from St Kilda through to Williamstown. The winning bags, however, were taken from the lake at Edgewater, which is accessible via the Maribyrnong River. Tweaking small hardbodied lures and lightly weighted soft plastics along the rock walls proved to be the most successful technique.
Since the tournament, local anglers have been picking up increasing numbers of bream and the odd jewie on the edges in the Maribyrnong River. Ecogear SX40’s and Lucky Craft Pointers have been successful, while bait anglers are still taking fish on scrub worms and small yabbies.
Fishing the freshwater reaches of the Yarra River near Eltham, Adam Thatcher landed a few Murray cod to 65cm recently. Cheese presented close to the snags and rock bars on a running sinker rig has been the most productive method.
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