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Whiting and tuna make a strange mix
  |  First Published: April 2011



April is whiting time around the Bellarine Peninsula. These tasty critters increase in both size and numbers all around the region and anglers flock to the ramps in response.

Corio Bay

March saw some great soft plastic fishing inside Corio Bay with swarms of undersized pinkie snapper destroying plastics by the packet-full. Ross Winstanley fishes inside Stingaree Bay like a demon. Ross has caught stacks of pinkie snapper from undersized to a respectable 45cm using light tackle with baits. Ross says that most of the pinkie snapper are 30-35cm but he has taken a fair few around 1-2kg.

Clifton Springs and Portarlington

Snapper were still responding to baits and soft plastics in March and you can expect a good run of whiting in the shallows here. Try off Hermsley and just as the water drops from 2-3 meters to 4-6 meters deep. The bottom can be clearly visible here so try to pick an area with a mix of sand and weed, use some berley and try to time an outgoing tide on dusk. Mussels are great bait, but pipis and fresh squid are also on the menu.

My eldest daughter Bridget and I launched at Clifton Springs hoping for a feed of whiting recently. We fished hard with bait for whiting with only a few tentative bites so we decided to have a drift with soft plastics near Leopold. This turned out to be a good move as we caught a few small pinkies, a 1kg calamari on a jig and a few flatties of which we kept three with the biggest being 45cm.

St Leonards to Queenscliff

As always, this is the place to be if you want a feed of whiting over April. Anglers have been invading St Leonards for years over April for the peak of whiting season and with good reason. There is always the general run of fish from legal length to 35cm during the day, but dawn and dusk and sometimes into the night can see some fish either side of 45cm in your bag. Remember to put the effort in and keep moving if you have no bites in 20 or so minutes and you should find a school.

Calamari can be taken over the nearby shallow reef areas and these make the freshest of bait and also a great side serve to your crispy whiting fillets!

The whiting have started early at Queenscliff with fish either side of 40cm and some over 45cm invading the shallows of Lonsdale Bight. Nick Scerri of Ocean Grove Charters got onto a few patches of them for clients. Nick says that most fish were around 37cm and a few were up to 46cm.

Barwon Heads

Barwon Heads saw a promising season on the yellowtail kingfish this year. There has been plenty of legal-length fish and Ken Stevens from Barwon Heads Angling Club says there has been at least one that stretched the scales to 7kg.

Striped tuna have also provided some top sport fishing off Barwon Heads. Some days there have been schools busting up on the surface as far as you can see. They can be very fussy when it comes to lure choice and their popularity amongst anglers has seen them get very boat shy. The best way to approach any school of surface feeding fish is to position the boat well ahead of the school’s direction of travel, cut the motor and wait for them to come to you.

Lob lures into the school when they are within casting range.

Nick Scerri from Ocean Grove Fishing Charters caught plenty of striped tuna for clients in March around Black Rock. Nick says running lures a long way behind the boat is the way to go if the tuna are boat shy.

Barwon Heads can really turn on some classy whiting fishing over April. Smaller tinnies can sit just inside the mouth of the river on the outgoing tide and catch a respectable bag of whiting amongst the odd toadie. A little further afield, whiting can breach the magical 50cm mark in and around the shallow reef areas of Ocean Grove if the weather and swell allow it. Just on dark is best and these big fish will take pilchard fillets and fresh squid baits.

April can see a good run of elephant fish inside the Barwon River estuary. They will take just about any bait and after dark can be the best bet. Try bank fishing up near Sheepwash Road.

Torquay

John Albrecht from Torquay Angling Club says things have been a little slow around Torquay. Not because of the lack of fish but the weather has been quite nasty most of the time. However club members that have managed to get offshore have been doing well and some pinkie snapper ranging from 700g to around 1.5 kg.

A couple of elephant fish have been taken off the Whites Beach lately as they are starting their spawning run into April. Some schools of salmon have been lurking about which should only improve over this month.

There have also been a few thresher sharks about in the shallower areas off Torquay and Breamlea.

Torquay does boast some quality whiting fishing all year but it is the lead in from April that does get the local excited. The after dark fishing for these fish can yield fairly consistent captures of fish over 40cm with at least a couple over 45cm at their peak. Pipis and squid are the baits of choice. Lice can be a problem so switch to squid if they are stripping your pipis off. Don’t pack up when the lice come on as the whiting feed on these also.

Catch a few around Geelong, Bellarine Peninsula or Surf Coast to Lorne recently? Send in a report to --e-mail address hidden-- with “VFM” in the subject field or give me a call on 0408 997348. Please include where (without giving away your secret spot!), when, what on and who caught the fish. Pictures are always great, but please make sure they are at least 1mb file size.

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