Sharks galore on the beaches
  |  First Published: February 2013


While it’s not a new concept, paddling baits out off the surf beach for sharks is becoming a popular past time on our local beaches.

Some of the local fanatics have been tangling with some thumping big bronze whaler, school and hammerheads sharks. While not for the faint hearted, there is nothing more exciting than catching big fish land-based, and these are the ultimate in our neck of the woods.

Beaches like Pettemans, Gibbs and Lake Tyers have been go to areas and some days the guys have had up to six runs from big toothies. Using large baits like striped tuna fillets, whole salmon and slimy mackerel rigged on wire between 100-300lb and twin 9/0 hooks has been the best. Like any fishing though, the anglers with the most success are doing their research, collecting their own fresh bait and working the tide changes.

Using berley is a must and a trail of minced fish scraps with tuna oil is perfect. Most of the sharks have been released which is great to see. It is a dangerous form of fishing but very rewarding!

While on the surf scene the Australian salmon have been phenomenal! Huge schools have been cruising the surf breaks (another reason there are so many sharks) and are easily targeted using metal lures spinning the deeper gutters. Bait fishing has also been very productive especially using the green popper/half pilchard paternoster combo. A few solid gummies have been caught this way too especially at first and last light on the high tide.

Around the Gippsland Lakes there have been plenty of options for both boat and land-based anglers. Cunningham arm jetties have been fishing well for silver trevally and bream on shrimp and pilchard pieces. Post Office jetty has been best, while Ferrymans and the Nautilus are also scoring some nice fish. Whiting have been patchy but a few have been taken on mussel from the jetties and sandworm. In the Hopeton channel whiting have been running on the run-in tide on mussel around the deeper weed-beds and holes.

Use the mussel shells as berley to attract the whiting as they tend to school fairly heavily and once fired up the action can be fast and furious on ultra-light gear! Expect to catch plenty of big yellow eye mullet and small salmon too as they have been plaguing the whiting grounds.

The rockwalls along Kalimna and Bullock island have been fishing well for luderick using the traditional method of green weed fished about 2.1m below a running float rig. Fish up to 2.5kg are always on the cards at this time of year while the average fish is between 500g-1kg they are a fantastic sportfish, especially when they use heavy current to their advantage.

Another species that is showing up in good numbers is pinkie snapper, while there generally is only a smaller run of fish in the system, there have been some rippers caught lately. I spent a session with Adrian Adi, his mate Tyler and Adrian’s son David. David scored the fish of the trip with a pinkie that would have given 50cm a real nudge. The highlight for me was watching David’s ability to fish, as he has no hands. His ability to cast, work the lure and fight the fish was incredible!

The flathead have been thick in Cunningham Arm and like every summer there are some genuine crocs amongst them! James Wickham has been out every day flicking plastics and recently nailed his personal best of 94cm on a Zman paddle tail and 1/4oz jighead. The fish was released after a few photos.

Some of the bigger fish have been caught on live mullet and prawn. Whole pilchards are also good but plastics have accounted for the majority of the fish. I can’t emphasise how important it is to release these big flatties (now its law to release any over 55cm) as they really are the future of our flathead stocks. Try using natural colours around 3-4inches long on a 1/8th-1/4oz jigheads and fish them aggressively around weed beds and sand banks.

Prawns have been dipped at night in the main channel and also in the creek at Bullock island on the run-out tide. While they are not only a tasty option they are brilliant fun to target using a light and dip net wading the shallows. Just be sure to keep an eye out for those spiky little nightmares called cobbler. They rarely grow more than 20cm, most commonly around the 3-8cm range and can inflict an extremely painful spike. If hit by one of these immerse the affected area in hot water (at hot as you can tolerate) as this brings out the poison.

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