Bream get friendly as open water options contract
  |  First Published: May 2013

After what was definitely the longest and hottest summer for a very long time, it comes with some relief to report and experience some cooler weather and water temperatures over the past month or so in Port Phillip.

The months of autumn provide great fishing the south of the bay, especially around the inshore areas where the food chain really charges up as the water temperature cools. Cooler daytime temperatures also provide generally calmer and milder weather conditions making it a great time to get newcomers and youngsters amongst the action.

If you’ve followed this column for a while, or you’ve been otherwise made aware of my passion in angling, you’ll know that the humble old bream is pretty special to me. And it gives me great pleasure to see some great bream reports coming in over the past month, and also seeing some red hot keen anglers, and some old ones as well like my mate Joffa having a crack at the local waterways.

The Patterson River has been turning over some real monsters, particularly for the bait anglers fishing the main river, and also in the canals as well. Even your humble author has been giving them a tickle in the canals of late, and it’s great to see lots of small fish coming from natural recruitment. It has also been wonderful to see some great bream coming from Kananook and Balcombe creeks and also even out in the bay itself with some ripper bream being taken recently around Dromana Pier and also the Davey’s Bay Jetty.

The eastern seaboard of Port Phillp is all about snapper for many anglers, especially during the yearly summer spawning migration. And even though many local anglers have been focusing on the superb whiting fishing on offer in Port Phillip and also further afield in Western Port, there have still been plenty of snapper numbers about to keep anglers keen. As is normally the trend for this time of year, the reds tend to get a little picky on bait and lure choice, and their bite times can be narrowed somewhat during peak times of the tide and day.

The deeper marks, particularly around Mornington and Mount Martha have been ever-reliable with most fish typically ranging from 1-4kg in size. Talking to several anglers at the local ramps of late, they have all said that fresh squid has been the gun bait.

As water temperatures continue to fall over the next month or so, expect to see a late run of larger fish looking to put on some condition before some of them leave until the next migration starts next season. During previous seasons, these snapper have been found grazing over the wide expanses of mud flats, especially during slower tidal movements and dull cloudy days.

Time spent on the sounder is very valuable to locate numbers of fish, especially side imaging units that can scan large areas of water. Hopefully, by the time this issue of V&TFM is in your hands, the late run of reds will be in full swing.

Plenty of smaller snapper have been around on the inshore reefs as well, and are a great target fish for the bait anglers and in particular those anglers using cast or trolled lures and plastics. Although they are not as thick as some of the more northern areas, particularly around Black Rock and Ricketts Point, the southern reefs can be very productive as well. These inshore areas also turn on excellent by-catch like salmon, pike, flathead, whiting and squid and are predominantly protected areas where anglers in smaller boats, families and even land-based anglers can all get amongst the action.

And while we are on the subject of squid, I don’t know who flicked the switch, but the reefs and inshore areas have loaded up big time over the last month or so with calamari of various sizes. Mornington Pier in particular has been like Bourke Street, with some days, nights and evenings the whole pier and all of the smaller landings being shoulder to shoulder with anglers looking to catch some calamari for baits and dinner. Be sure to stick to bag limits, and it doesn’t hurt to let the little key ring models go and give them a chance to grow. Orange, black and white UV jigs have all been very effective.

Other areas have been very productive as well, in particular the shoreline reefs all the way from Olivers Hill to Mornington, and further south from Fishermans Beach all the way to Dromana, and beyond. These areas have been the places to hunt for a few whiting as well, although I would expect the whiting fishing to slow over the next month or so.

No harm in giving it a bash though, especially around dusk and at first light. Fresh squid strips and also mussels and pipis have been the best baits.

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