The onset of winter always seems to create its share of physical and mental challenges for Victorian anglers.
If the quality of the fishing on offer in the lead up to June is anything to go by, there should be enough to inspire most of us this month. Reports of snapper to 3kg are still filtering through and Australian salmon have been relentless at times, circling, herding and driving huge schools of baitfish to the surface, before gorging themselves silly.
Bream and pinkie snapper have been active in the metropolitan rivers, but the big news is the number of mulloway success stories reported of late.
Australian salmon are expected to provide plenty of action and excitement around the top end of the bay over the coming months. Any sign of birds hovering above nervous bait schools or diving at surface feeding boil ups is worthy of investigation.
While trolling is a reliable searching technique, casting semi-translucent minnow pattern soft plastics, such as 70-85mm Squidgy Flick-baits, from a drifting boat is perhaps more effective once a school has been located.
Admittedly, sometimes salmon can become so charged up and aggressive that it really doesn’t matter what you throw at them. Nevertheless, it’s well worth trying to replicate the size, shape and colour of the bait in your immediate area.
If you prefer to troll, resist the temptation to drive straight through the middle of a school as it is almost certain to send them deep.
Following the mobile berley trail created by surface feeding salmon, there’s always a chance of picking up a variety of other species, particularly if you can get a lure or bait to reach the bottom. Depending on the location, pinkie snapper, flathead, tailor, silver trevally and snook are also likely to be lurking nearby, mopping up pieces of baitfish that fall through the water column as a result of the bait slaughter.
Andre Lindsey and the team from Melbourne Fishing Charters put clients onto some terrific fish during mid to late autumn. The highlights included plenty of snapper to 3kg and a surprise 30kg seven-gill shark, which was released after a few photographs. Overcast conditions coupled with an outgoing tide resulted in the hottest bite.
Closer to shore, pinkie snapper to 2kg have been on the chew in the early hours of the morning and just prior to dusk on the inshore reefs at Williamstown and Altona. The best baits have been pilchards and squid, with those casting worm or baitfish pattern soft plastics also amongst the action.
Huge schools of salmon have been patrolling the area from Altona through to the Point Cook marine park. After two hours of trolling Mario Saliba, caught salmon to 2kg that gave him a good workout on his light gear. He also managed plenty of garfish on fresh pike flesh while fishing at anchor.
Southern calamari have been somewhat scarce since the floods, but they seem to be gradually gathering in numbers. After launching at Werribee South and heading down towards Point Wilson, Bill Allen managed to find a few squid in the shallows, thanks largely to the information presented by the Gan Craft crew during a workshop held at Hooked on Bait and Tackle.
A move out wider towards the Prince George bank produced several flathead to 1.5kg, a handful of garfish and a 7.5kg gummy shark.
Repeatedly drifting over a sandy patch in 5-6m of water, Max Clark and his family also picked up a solid bag of flathead on pilchards, approximately 1km off Werribee South.
Docklands has been fishing well at times for pinkie snapper and bream. Most fish have succumbed to lightly weighted mussel presented close to the jetty pylons, although Joey Regali was surprised to land a juvenile mulloway on just a small piece of chicken while fishing for mullet!
According to Nick Vasiljevik, the Maribyrnong River fired during autumn with some terrific pinkie snapper and small to medium size mulloway taken by land-based anglers on live baits. Of particular note, Martin Zgadzaj caught a mulloway during each of his three consecutive nights on the water under Nick’s guidance.
These fish ranged in size, from just 30cm up to 7.5kg, and were flanked by some very large bream that somehow managed to inhale a live mullet pinned to a 5/0 circle hook. A week later, Nick landed another jewie of 5.9kg after sorting through numerous pinkie snapper. He also put his girlfriend, Emma Camilleri, onto a 6.5kg mulloway less than 24 hours later. The fact that this was Emma’s first fish ever will no doubt make many anglers green with envy!
Bream fishing in the lower reaches of the Yarra River has been consistent without being red hot. Adam Thatcher caught bream up at Richmond on peeled prawns. Casting close to the reeds and allowing the bait to drift down with the current brought about reasonably consistent results. A few fish are still being caught on hardbodied lures along the edges, but they’re also beginning to mill around the bridge pylons and deeper holes further upstream.
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