Offshore fishing really starting to fire
  |  First Published: February 2013

The good thing about summer is that we start to get a bit of everything and there is no better place to snag a mixed bag of fish than offshore McLoughlins Beach or Port Albert.

Now that the water has warmed up considerably, we have been hearing reports of nearly everything and one standout sportfish that has shown itself lately is the yellowtail kingfish. Schools of these fish have been turning up offshore McLoughlins and sporadically caught by snapper anglers. Many anglers have been reporting the kingies chasing up their baits but only occasionally taking them.

Anglers catching them have been either casting metal slugs or big plastics at them or jigging metal lures down deep. The Seal Islands have been producing some good catches of kingies now as well, but not all the time. Trolling live baits such as slimy mackerel has by far been the best method to catch them and it pays to cover your depths by putting live bait down deep and another on the surface.

Some anglers are running teasers as well just to try and get the kingies off the bottom. The kingies might come inside this year so it would pay to keep your eyes open for surfacing fish, as they might be kingies. The water temperature has been good enough and the lack of rain this month has helped as well.

The sheer number of baitfish in the system this year should be enough; it certainly is a totally different season to last year so far, so hopefully we get a good kingie run down here like three years ago.

Gummy sharks have been the standout fish this year and this has certainly been one of the best gummy years I have ever seen. Offshore McLoughlins there are stacks of fish in 18-21m of water. Fresh baits are working a treat so the anglers spending the extra time catching trevally and salmon to use as fresh cut baits are doing the best.

But in saying that, the old pilchards and frozen squid are catching plenty of good eating size 1m gummies as well. Of Couse this time of year there are stacks of baby gummies and schoolies around as well so remember your size limits and there is no need to keep these tiny sharks.

There are plenty of big toothy sharks getting caught now as well, but I think that is because there is so many more anglers targeting them these days than before and we are learning how many big sharks are very close in. From bronze whalers, hammerheads to juvenile great whites, these big toothy sharks seem to be everywhere.

Some are getting caught on paternoster or running rigs via the gummy anglers, however most are being caught using big baits fished on wire trace with balloons. Anywhere from an 8/0 hook to a 12/0 hook can be used, however it’s better to match the hook to the bait rather than to the shark you want to catch. Over the past few weeks, the hammerhead sharks have become quite as common catch but this is standard for January and February. Also they are fairly active on the surface and there are plenty of anglers chasing makos with same rig and of course the hammerhead becomes a bit of a by-catch.

Apart from offshore McLoughlins, the seal islands and Wilson Promontory are the main target areas for these sharks and most anglers generally fish out beyond 22m and as deep as 55m. In saying this plenty of hammerheads, bronzies and the odd mako get caught in the shallower waters of Whale Bay off Port Albert as well.

Inside Port Albert the entrance along Snake Island has produced plenty of nice sized 1m gummies over the past month and they are spread all the way down the Snake Channel to the Blue Hole. Pilchards are working very well for these fish but again, if you can get fresh bait, you are in for a chance of catching a thumper. The Snake Channel is also producing plenty of flatties ads a by-catch and some are decent-sized blue spot flathead as well.

Snapper have started to quieten down a bit now, however there are still plenty of decent-sized pinkie snapper around 45cm in the Port Albert entrance. There have even been a few good pinkie snapper caught inside McLoughlins Beach by the whiting guys, however a few anglers have started to target them of an evening or early morning and are catching some nice fish.

Inside, the big blue spot flathead have been a real saving grace in those hot days, and many anglers have found them in the shallows of McLoughlins, Manns and Port Albert. I have been sent more big flathead photos so far than I can remember and since the water has warmed significantly, the big flathead have become very active and aren’t sulking anymore, so even the bait anglers fishing pilchards and bluebait are catching as many as the lures guys.

Finally, I’ll finish off with a fish that we never talk about in summer as there are never really here all that much, but the humble Australian salmon, are still around in huge numbers and they are massive. Actually, they pretty much were not here at all over winter so it’s amazing they are here now in large numbers, but it is solely because of bait.

Like I said earlier there is more bait around now than I have ever seen and that has to be the reason why the salmon on are here now. They are spread throughout all of South Gippsland and are being caught on any metal lure or soft plastic thrown at them. They are up to 3kg in weight.

For more information, contact Will at Allways Angling in Traralgon on 51748544. You will get expert advice and great deals on fishing bait and tackle., Turn in to Rex Hunt and Lee Rayner’s “Off the Hook” on 1242 to hear Will’s Report on what’s going on in Gippsland!

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