After a warm start to autumn, the western shores of Port Phillip and its tributaries will be brimming with options in the lead up to Easter.
Over the past few years, flathead have been a feature of my catch records during April, with fish averaging 40-55cm often taken along the stretch from Point Cook through to Werribee South. Increasing numbers of pinkie snapper should continue to arrive on the inshore reefs while schools of Australian salmon are also expected to show up more regularly.
Both the Yarra and Maribyrnong rivers are also expected to come alive this month with bream, pinkie snapper and school mulloway all likely to be on the chew. Bream will continue graze in the warmer water adjacent to the rocky margins in the lower reaches of both systems, but will start to head further upriver as the seasons change.
At roughly the same time as the snapper run begins to slow down, schools of pinkies move into the lower reaches of the rivers and remain here through winter.
Although my knowledge of metropolitan mulloway is very much limited to a few chance encounters while chasing bream and snapper, half an hour either side of the slack tide, be it the low or high, is widely regarded as the prime time. Both river systems produce schoolies at this time of year and the most critical factor is the presence of baitfish and structure.
Fab Peda from Saltwater Fishing Charters reports that large schools of baitfish have been congregating behind Williamstown Football Ground with pinkies to 1kg, salmon to 800g and a few lengthy snook never far away. According to Fab, Squidgy Flick Baits and Berkley Power Minnows have been amongst the more productive patterns of late.
Ben and James Laverty found a few pinkie snapper amongst the moored boats inside the Williamstown Harbour. Later in the week, James and his son picked up a few decent flathead, pinkies and salmon on the drift off Point Gellibrand.
Mario Saliba and his mate Russel put together an impressive mixed bag while fishing off Point Cook. Launching just prior to sunrise, it wasn’t long before they found a patch of juvenile snapper in 5-8m of water. Casting a variety of soft plastics accounted for any number of mostly undersize pinkies, along with a few keepers.
Mario also hooked and lost what was thought to be a much larger snapper when his jig-head was straightened during the first 30 seconds of the fight. Soon afterwards, however, a large snook and some decent flathead were taken beneath a school of baitfish. Anchoring up in search of a few whiting failed to produce, but more pinkie snapper and plenty of garfish kept the boys entertained.
Colin Kneebone spent an all-nighter searching for gummy sharks off Werribee South. Anchoring in less than 4m of water, just the one small gummy was caught and released, but half a dozen large flathead were a welcome by-catch. A few whiting and plenty of pinkies rounded off a reasonably productive night in warm humid conditions. According to Colin, the best baits were pipi, cuttlefish and pilchards, with a mixture of bread and old prawns used as berley.
Further west, Andrew Geradi bagged out on whiting in the shallows off Kirk Point. Fishing the high tide change, it was action aplenty for a good two hours with fish to 39cm taken on squid tentacle baited on small circle hooks.
Local tournament duo, Brad and Mike Hodges of Team Berkley, took out the season opening event of the 2012 Vic Bream Classic Series held in Melbourne. After securing a healthy overnight lead, the boys moved further ahead on Day Two, compiling an even 8 kg bag for the tournament.
A field of more than thirty teams assembled at the mouth of the Yarra River, but it was Team Berkley who made the early move. Taking a punt and sacrificing valuable fishing time in pursuit of big bream around at Werribee South certainly paid dividends when Mike boated four fish within the first hour. Brad completed their five fish limit shortly afterwards and the boys soon set about upgrading their catch, returning to Docklands with 4.8kg.
Strong winds forecast for Day 2 put paid to any thoughts of a return trip to Werribee forcing Brad and Mike to slug it out at the mouth of the Yarra River. Pitching hardbodied lures at the moored boats and nearby shallows proved to be a winning combination as once again, the boys put together a five fish limit, increasing their lead by a few 100g to secure the win.
Cam Whittam and Warren Carter of Team Minn-Kota finished in second place with (10/10) 5.67kg, followed by Steve Wheeler and Gary Lockyer of Team Cranka with (6/10) 4.97kg.
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