Dry, warm and consistent fishing
  |  First Published: March 2013

Dry and warm conditions have continued in Port Phillip right throughout the summer months.

Predictable wind patterns have also prevailed in the most part as well, making for planned and consistent fishing in many of the well-known and lesser known areas. As strange as it sounds now after the deluge we received in late winter and spring, but now it would be handy if a drop of rain or two would come our way!

Snapper still continue to draw the lion’s share of interest from the bays anglers, and with the settled conditions and steady water temperature set to continue for some time, I would expect this to continue. Traditionally, the late run of post-spawn snapper can continue right through until Easter, especially in the deeper areas near the shipping channels and around the vast mud bottomed areas the snapper use to graze.

While bite periods can be a little tricky at times, and the reds can prove a little fussy, the rewards are worth it, and the fish are usually in great nick, and go like the clappers.

Expect the late run to be a real cracker this autumn.

Specifically, the most consistent reports have been from the wider marks, especially during calm and hot conditions, with the odd larger snapper being taken in close, and even from various land-based locations during more adverse conditions. Various wider marks out from Carrum and Seaford have been producing some lovely snapper to 3-4kg and further south out from Frankston, Mount Eliza and especially Mornington similar sized snapper have been reported.

Bite periods are generally pretty hectic, as most of the snapper tend to be traveling in larger groups at this time of year, so it pays to consistently check and change your baits, and also be prepared to move location and sound some fish that may be more active. The use of berley is also recommended and will often keep the snapper on the chew for longer periods of time.

Of special interest has also been the presence of some lovely school sharks in the deeper areas as well, and these have provided some great line stretching action for many anglers of late. Most of the sharks reported have been around 1.2-1.5m and really put a show on when they are hooked. Whether you want to specifically target these fish, or send a bigger bait down just in case it’s definitely worth the effort. Sharks love fresh squid and fish baits, especially salmon, tuna and other oily baits, but don’t forget the wire!

Speaking of salmon, some big schools are currently carving up the poor old baitfish down south, and I have had a few recent reports of a few smaller packs of bigger fish up to 3kg hunting along the eastern shoreline between Mornington and Frankston. Smaller fish have also been common at low light at the mouth of the Patterson River and Martha Cove Marina.

The larger salmon respond well to a quiet approach and long cast with metal lures, flies and soft plastics. An electric motor on your boat can be very handy indeed. Similarly, the smaller specimens at the river mouths will readily attack anything that moves, but be prepared to wind like the road runner, sometimes the faster the better gets it done!

Whiting have also continued right throughout the past month along most of the shallower reef marks, and from many land based points. Most anglers choose to fish for these tasty little scrappers in Western Port, but Port Phillip has plenty of whiting on offer as well. Dusk seems to be the prime time for most areas, and the use of quality, fresh bait is the key to success.

Fresh squid strips, local mussels and Bass yabbies are the gun baits. Shiner-style circle hooks are also recommended and provide a much better hook up rate, and better still an easy release of any undersized fish, or small pinkies that tend to inhabit the same areas, particularly those closer to reef. And the best part is, you don’t need a boat. Reliable land based spots to try are McCrae foreshore, Bird Rock and Mt Martha beaches, Fisheries Beach and Canadian Bay.

The squid fishing still continues to amaze and surprise me every month with its consistency and reliability for many anglers. Although the bay is definitely getting more pressure than it used to from squid anglers, the health and stability of the food chain is showing through with all the usual haunts producing squid at the moment. Just like the whiting, the best and most productive times to target calamari, especially in the shallows is first and last light, and dusk can be especially productive if you are fishing land-based in shallow water.

Saving the best for last, I have also received plenty of bream reports this month as well. Patterson Lakes has been a little tricky of late with clear water making the wise old bream a little difficult to tempt on lures, but some big fish have been taken on baits, especially at night in the main river. Of special note have been reports of consistent captures of bream around the various Port Phillip piers and man-made structure.

The fish tend to be residents of nearby creeks that probably become uninhabitable during the heights of summer and seek out shelter and food during these times. They are rarely easy to catch, or land but can be a real challenge for die-hard breamers like me. Fresh baits are probably the best bet, and I would recommend a stealthy early morning attack. Sinking hardbodied lures and plastics would be the recommended approach, but be prepared to loose a few in the process.

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