When icy blasts tear across Victoria you know winter is here. Sure, it means the end of the fishing for some species, but as the water cools it also heralds some great winter fishing, especially around this the north of the bay.
There has been a steady procession of small squid being caught from Mordialloc and Beaumaris piers over the past few weeks, especially late in the afternoons as the squid move into the shallower water to feed.
Mordialloc Creek has also seen the numbers of mullet starting to increase, with the good bags of them being taken by the local pole fishermen. One tip if you want to catch the mullet yourself is to take note of the rigs and how the locals fish for the mullet – then you too will be able to catch them without too much trouble.
Out in the boats the whiting are really tapering off as the water cools, however the ones that are still being caught are of better size. The other bonus is the that pinkies are starting to fire on the Parkdale Pinnacles, and while the majority are smaller fish there are the odd better ones up to about 1.5kg to keep you on your toes.
Up off Ricketts Point and towards Black Rock the salmon schools have been quite good, and while they aren’t huge fish there are more than enough salmon to 1kg to have you hooting and hollering for a few hours.
To find the salmon look for obvious signs, such as birds diving, but also keep your eyes peeled as there have been days when the salmon are just making the odd swirl or splash on the surface and have no birds on them.
As for the pinkies along this stretch they too are starting to get better in both numbers and size, although the best catches are definitely on the rougher days. During rough conditions there have been good reports of boats taking several pinkies between 43-49cm in a session. Interestingly these fish are coming from 2-3m of water on dusk, and are taking either lightly-weighted stickbait style plastics, or unweighted baits of white and bluebait.
Heading towards Sandringham, the garfish are still about in numbers for both shore and boat-based anglers, with places such as Yorkies Reef and the groynes at Hampton producing fish daily.
Wayne Wright of Southern Sportfishing in Black Rock had a great report of some 3-4kg snapper being taken out in about 15m of water off Brighton.
He also has had good reports of the main schools of whiting heading north, with the better catches now coming from the shallow reefs just north of Brighton through to St Kilda. Many of these fish are also of a good size, with Shimano staff Joe Downie and Martin Gospel getting a good bag of fish up to 46cm.
From St Kilda to Port Melbourne there are plenty of garfish, the odd whiting and some pinkie snapper on offer. The really good news at this time of year is that with the cooler water the tasty but very ugly and slimy ling become active and can be found on the abundant cunjevoi beds that run through the area.
May heralds the prime time to be chasing mulloway in the Yarra River and the past few weeks have seen several school sized jewies of 2-4kg caught on small soft plastics and live mullet up in Victoria Harbour. Asides from these, however, there have been only a few scattered reports of bigger fish hooked and lost.
Rudy from Compleat Angler in the city also told me he had been having some of the best bream fishing he has seen for several years in the Yarra, with lots of sight fishing to big bream that have been only too keen to smash a lure. In one session he landed and released 40 bream, with 12 of them over 1kg.
In the Maribyrnong there has also been some great bream fishing, with the odd school mulloway mixed in to really give the old bream gear a stretch.
If there is one tip I could offer for the coming weeks it is to take a heavier outfit with you when you plan a bream trip to either of the rivers. Catch a mullet and get it back out there as a livie: you may be surprised at where and when a metre or more of gleaming jewie may show up.
Out from Altona there have been excellent numbers of squid and pinkies over the shallow reefs behind the footy ground, as well as the odd bigger fish out deeper at places such as P2.
Down towards Werribee the whiting have been hot and cold, although I know of one bearded football caller that is waiting in anticipation for the annual run of whiting that stretches from St Leonards to Werribee. It should really start to fire over the coming weeks.
Over the coming months the broken ground that abounds through this stretch of coastline is also dynamite for squid, and the amount of them that are there at present indicate it should be great for squid all winter.
It’s easy to forget about a cold winter when you are catching great looking pinkies like this.Reads: 781