The wintery conditions have persisted for the past month and have developed into a good ‘old school’ winter. I can remember these fresh changes of temperature from when I was a young jetty rat growing up on Western Port, and the welcome rain brings a big sigh of relief for many.
The flat conditions of last month have given way to blustery and gusty winds and bitterly cold days, but there are some breaks in the weather allowing anglers to get out there amongst the fish, and the elements. The Bay has retained impressively clear water, even after the strong winds and rain, and the fishing still remains excellent.
I’ve not had any reports over the last month of bigger snapper being taken, even though some big reds are still being caught across the peninsula in Western Port. This is probably due to fewer anglers having the opportunity to target them from the deeper marks. Instead they are staying put in the more sheltered and protected inshore waters.
Great fishing for pinky snapper still remains however, and will continue to prevail throughout the coming months. The majority of anglers targeting these fish are using lures at the moment, which is great to see. This is no doubt a result of the immense amount of information and products available for this style of fishing, but it doesn’t seem that long ago that we used to get very funny looks indeed chucking lures and plastics around the inshore reefs of the Bay. I guess the results speak for themselves.
For those new to this method, try casting 3-4” soft plastics rigged on 1/8-1/4oz jigheads, and fish from a drifting boat. Berkley Gulp is by far the best plastic to use, but Squidgies, Atomics and Ecogears will also catch their fair share.
Another method that is worth a try for catching pinkies is trolling bibbed minnows across the southern reefs. Anglers who are used to trolling lures for cod and trout will be amazed at the variety of fish you can catch using similar lures and tackle in the south of the Bay. You may have to change the Tassie Devils, but most deep divers in the 4-10cm range will work a treat.
Keep your tackle light and you’ll have plenty of fun, and be ready for heaps of by-catch like salmon, pike, barracouta, red mullet, snook and flathead.
The rough weather has knocked the squid fishing around a bit, but plenty of smaller models are being taken from Mornington, Frankston and the piers further south. Green and brown jigs seem to be all the rage at the moment, fished on a paternoster dropper rig and jerked fairly radically.
Squid are very aggressive critters. They have to eat plenty of tucker to sustain their amazingly fast growth rate, and will respond to many different methods. Amazingly, I’ve even caught them trolling lures for pinkies many moons ago.
There still some really good whiting being taken by land-based anglers right along the southern reaches of the Bay. As always, fresh bait is a big ingredient for success, and really is worth the extra effort. Bass yabbies are dynamite, but can be a little soft, and all sorts of pickers will destroy these in seconds. Personally, I would use fresh squid (but only the bits I’m not going to eat) or mussels.
Another little tip for success on whiting is the right hook. For my money small circle style hooks are the business. Most Japanese brands come in an appropriate style, but I would recommend Owner, Gamakatsu or Decoy.
I’m happy to report that the breaming has improved over the past month or so as the freshwater inflow has super charged the food chain a little. My mate Brad Hodges has been catching heaps in the north of the Bay, and my other little mate Dougie Bauer has been doing similar things from his front lawn on the Patterson River.
Some quality fish have been taken from the Patterson Lakes on bait, and just like the whiting, fresh bait is the key to success. Don’t be afraid to think outside the square a little, and bear in mind that bream, mullet and many other estuary fish will feed on the many food items deposited into the system with freshwater run-off. Therefore, baits like scrubworm can be deadly when used in the right areas. Regular readers of VFM may recall a 1.8kg bream being taken from the Patto earlier this year on this very bait.
So if you’re still keen for a fish, don’t let the cold dampen your spirits. After all, there’s a reason why we own jackets, gloves and beanies. And with a little bit of preparation and planning, you can still come home with some great memories, or some great food for the table.Reads: 1850