There is no doubt that it has been a sensational year with Western Port really turning it on.
Although the Port has been productive, the offshore fishing has got me the most excited.
The striped tuna schools are approaching and while they have been contained further to the west leading into March, we should see plenty of high-speed action out from Phillip Island.
The shark scene has also been very productive with many of the catches occurring in close. Shayne Turner has been having a great start to the season with three trips under his belt already. On the first, he managed a small mako around the 10kg mark, on the second trip a thumping blue shark which was released and estimated at around 100kg taking a squid bait and on the third trip, Shayne raised another mako but it disappeared back into the depths before taking a bait.
While he has been very happy with his results, the by-catch of flathead has also been welcomed.
Regular customer of Tackle World Cranbourne, Rodney Hee also managed a nice mako shark when fishing off the Windmills at Kilcunda. The fish went 1.65m in length and weighed an estimated 45kg.
There have also been a few sneaky reports of the return of yellowtail kingfish. While I have no hard evidence that they are here, it was this time last year that I was fortunate for catch them. The few reports I have heard have come from Kilcunda and Pyramid Rock when anglers have been trolling Yo-Zuri 140mm Hydro Magnums along the reefs in 10-15m of water.
The reports inside the Port have been nothing but exciting. Hearing anglers talk of how great the whiting season is has been pleasing to my ears. It seems that wherever you set anchor along the edges of the Port, whiting can be caught.
Brody Connelly fished in 3m of water off Silverleaves to catch 8 cracking whiting along the edge of the weed beds. He found the run-out tide was the more productive fishing time.
I briefly spoke with Robin Gray from Peninsula and Western Port fishing charters to find out what he thought of the whiting season. Robin reported that this season is without doubt the best he has ever seen and with that statement coming from a veteran of fishing Western Port, it is saying something.
Although Robin said he has found fish everywhere, the Tortoise Head bank has been one of the hottest locations. In saying that, he also said he ventured to the eastern side of the bank in which he has never fished before and found more whiting than ever.
I also couldn’t resist the chance to have a crack at some whiting and ventured out with Gawaine Blake from Big Time Charters for a quick two-hour social fishing session. It took three drops before we found the fish and managed our bag. While not big fish, they were mainly schoolies but still fun nonetheless.
Along with the whiting, monster mullet, silver trevally, salmon, flathead and the largest garfish I have ever caught. One in fact measured 48cm, longer than the whiting. While I had a range of baits, the most effective were whiting worm and pipi.
A few days later and I headed out once again with friends Dave, Steve and Donny. We fished around the southern end of the Middle Spit and long the Middle Bank for a sensational bag of whiting. Pipis were the most productive bait when threaded onto Black Magic Whiting Snatchers. The whiting ranged from 45cm with the largest being 48cm. Along with that, we also managed calamari to 1.5kg which were trying to take the whiting off our hooks while winding them up.
Tankerton has also been producing some good fish for those fishing up on the bank but once again most are just school fish to 38cm. While they are in good numbers, they are a lot of fun. For some larger models though try fishing in 8-10m of water. You will have to use 5-6oz of lead but the quality of fish is far better.
Another hot whiting location has been in Coronet Bay. This location is one of my favourites as both land-based anglers and those fishing from a kayak can easily access some great ground. There has been a considerable amount of kayak anglers heading out from here due to the ease of access from the car park. It is only a kilometre paddle or so and you right over the top of them.
While I could go on about whiting for this entire column, the gummy action isn’t too bad either!
Young 13 yr old Tyler Eims fished out from Cowes with his dad and caught a ripper 112cm gummy shark. This location has been producing some great fish especially during the run-out tide.
Reports are the salmon have arrived in huge numbers off Balnarring and around the western entrance. Most are being caught casting 20g metal slugs into the schools.
Of course, what would a fishing report be without a mulloway capture? There have been a few of late around the Corinella and Tenby Point areas and these will continue to be on the bite for another few weeks yet. Heath and his decky for the day Mark fished around Corinella and were rewarded for their efforts.
They were fishing with a squid baits and landed a massive mulloway which measured 151cms, unfortunately they couldn’t get an exact weight as the scales only went to 36kg and it maxed them out.
If your boat is large enough then heading offshore at every chance you can get is definitely worth the trip. If you not up to catching the prolific numbers of mako sharks, then you can be content with drifting for flathead. These can be caught in relatively close in 15-40m. Out from Kilcunda and right back to the eastern entrance are productive locations or if you’re up to exploring then have a look over the sand behind Woolamai surf beach.
If you are out here and notice the birds working, it will pay to deploy some white Occy skirts and troll around the birds. I can guarantee that the fish under the birds will be striped tuna so make sure you gear is above standard if you want to land them.
Inside Western Port will see the return of the elephant fish and many anglers will hit the regular haunts. These are the elephant triangle, Rhyll, Corinella, Blakes and Gardeners channels. Remember though, only one elephant per angler per day but after that, go whiting or calamari fishing as you won’t be disappointed.
With all the fishing options, I can’t stop mentioning just how good the offshore fishing is and will be over the next month or so. Obviously the weather will dictate if you can get out or not but if the outlook looks good, make the most of the day on the water and go exploring.Reads: 1996