Over the coming month, inshore anglers with small boats or kayaks will no doubt be licking their lips as we move into one of the more settled weather periods on Port Phillip.
Arguably, there’s no better time of year to be on the water than the start of autumn. A late season surge on the snapper front is expected over the coming month with some good fish of 1-4kg and beyond already showing up on the shallow western reefs.
Early mornings, coupled with a tide change should produce some action, especially for those casting soft plastics on the drift in 4-6m of water. Worm imitations, such as Berkley Gulp Turtle Back Worms, are good all-rounders, whereas larger profile baitfish or squid patterns more regularly entice the big bruisers. Natural colours including pumpkinseed, watermelon and new penny are proven performers, though it’s always worth changing it up with a bright pink or green, particularly in low light conditions.
While smaller tail-pinching pinkies can be frustrating at times, there should be a few larger fish available, particularly within close proximity to schools of bait, which have been thick in some areas.
King George whiting will be on the go during late summer and early autumn and the average size should increase as the water temperature gradually declines. The stretch from Point Cook to Werribee South and Point Wilson through to Avalon are among the more favoured locations with large schools congregating in about 3m of water.
Flathead are a prime target in the warmer shallows at this time of year. Areas with a combination of sand, reef and seagrass from Point Cook to Avalon regularly produce fish ranging from 40-60cm in length. The shallow sand flats at the entrance to the Werribee River are particularly productive for larger than average flathead. Around at Corio Bay, flathead can also be taken from Limeburners Bay (Grammar School Lagoon), North Shore Rocks, Geelong Waterfront and Stingaree Bay.
For those prospecting the metropolitan rivers, flooding rain events made it tough going at various stages over the past twelve months, but at the time of writing, conditions couldn’t be more ideal.
The Maribyrnong River in particular is expected to fire over the coming month as bream gather along the rocky margins. Diving minnows and lightly weighted soft plastics are perfect for engaging these fish, while tube worms, Bass yabbies and mussels will be among the more consistent baits as the water continues to clear.
Peter Mesto caught some cracking reds in the west this season and has graciously shared a few of his secrets. Fishing up to five days a week, Pete managed to locate large schools between Williamstown Football Ground and P2 off Altona, which was convenient, as he didn’t have to travel far.
Most of the larger fish, however, were taken in 5-8m of water out from Point Cook in really rough conditions.
The biggest snapper brought on board was just over 9kg and according to Pete the best baits were whole sauries, followed by yellowtail scads. Pete plans to be back on the water chasing snapper this month to cash in on a late season run.
John Regali has been fishing the jetties from Williamstown through to Beaumaris where flathead, garfish, whiting and pinkie snapper have been providing plenty of entertainment.
Whiting have been the standout in this area with bag limit catches of fish averaging 33-35cm reasonably easy to come by for most. According to Michael Felsovary from Hooked on Bait and Tackle, there’s also been some thumping garfish to 50cm amongst the whiting schools off Werribee South. The best baits have been pipi and mussel.
Mick also mentioned that flathead have been prevalent with plenty of good eating size fish to 55cm taken in recent weeks by those drifting the baits and soft plastics over the sand and weed patches.
Chris Roks managed a good feed of whiting and pinkie snapper while fishing the sand and weed patches close to the channel between Bird Rock and Point Wilson. An hour prior to low tide seemed to trigger a flurry of activity with fish to 38cm taken on pipi and squid, baited on a running sinker rig comprising a small circle hook.
The Maribyrnong River has been fishing well of late with bream to 40cm plus taken on a range of baits and lures. The water is now clearer than it’s been for many months and persistent anglers are reaping rewards.
A few pinkie snapper to 2kg have been showing up on the higher tides while reports of small tailor will no doubt have the mulloway gurus twitching.
The Werribee River has also been reasonably consistent with bream either side of 1kg taken on live tube worms and Bass yabbies. Brad Hodges regularly finds fish casting Gulp Sandworms (soft plastic) and 3B Subdogs (sinking stick-bait) around the weed beds and old wooden jetties.
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A late season surge on the snapper front is expected over the coming month with some good fish of 1-4kg showing up on the shallow reefs.
Bill Paton displays his personal best snapper taken on a soft plastic in just 6m of water under cloudy skies.
Flathead are a prime target in the warmer shallows at this time of year.
Mike and Marg Hodges celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary chasing snapper in glassed out mirror-like conditions on Port Phillip. More settled weather is expected as we move into autumn.Reads: 1961