The mild and settled conditions we enjoyed during the early parts of autumn have given way to some proper winter conditions over the past month.
It’s times like these that you wonder why you live in Victoria, especially when your mates from north of the border are enjoying 20C every day and plenty of sunshine.
What Victorians can boast about is the quality of fishing for bread and butter species we can enjoy right throughout the winter months and into spring. The best part is you don’t need a million dollar boat, or heaps of expensive lures; the basic tackle and bait will get you a quality feed of fish.
Pinkie snapper will continue to be the mainstay of many boating angler’s efforts for the next month or so as they will congregate in large numbers along the inshore reefs. Already anglers have been reporting captures of some ripper fish up to 45cm in size, although many have been a lot smaller. These smaller fish can be a pest at times, especially while bait fishing, but their presence is definitely a great sign of the future continuance of our great snapper fishery. It goes without saying therefore that care needs to be taken to release any undersized snapper back to the water unharmed.
Pinkies are also a great fun fish for kids to learn on, as they are very aggressive and will respond well to a variety of techniques, especially lures and plastics. The shallow inshore reefs are also home to various by-catch including Australian salmon, pike, flathead, red mullet and squid, all of which are viable light tackle targets for young and old anglers alike.
Speaking of young anglers, the local jetty rats have been cleaning up on garfish and small salmon recently, especially at Frankston and Mornington piers. The young lads I was speaking to the other day said that the change of tide has been the best for the gars, and berley has been very important. Calm days have been best. However, the best days for salmon have been during strong onshore winds, casting small metal slugs.
The squid fishing has been very consistent of late, with some of the reefs holding huge numbers of calamari at certain times of the day. I find this time of year, although cold on the water, presents the best sight fishing for squid as they hunt and ambush on the shallow reefs. The cooler winter water is generally clearer as well, except after any recent rain. Brighter coloured jigs tend to work better too, especially red and orange with a bit of brown.
As well as the salmon found around the piers, there has been plenty of fish to keep the boating anglers busy as well, especially around the mussel farm out from Mt Martha, and in close around Fishermans Beach and Canadian Bay. Trolling and watching your sounder is a great way to locate any schools, especially if they are not actively feeding on the surface. This is also a great way to pick up other fish like pinkies and pike as you troll. Casting to a feeding school from a distance is the way to go. Plastics, metal slugs and surface poppers are all productive.
Expect the sensational whiting fishing of the summer months to continue in part, especially further south in the bay for a while yet. I spoke to a very cluey angler the other day who has been catching PPB whiting for longer than I have been on the planet, and he reckons that the local whiting will continue right through winter, especially in the sandy bays along the eastern shoreline. Times of low light are best, and good bait is always essential, but the rewards on the plate are well worth the effort.
Lastly, the solid recent rainfall will really juice up the Patterson lakes system, and should lead to some excellent fishing over the next couple of months. Although many anglers will be targeting bream, expect mullet, salmon and even squid to be present in the river during the right conditions.
All the regular species will respond to well presented baits, and the stud winter bream will be in top condition. Don’t discount the mighty mulloway either, they too are a very viable target over the next couple of months.Reads: 558