Hopefully the autumn cooling of the waters will bring some much-needed rain.
I have been doing some fish research for Fisheries in the northern, central and southern areas of Western Port mainly on whiting and in all areas I have found that since Christmas there has been a steady decline in catch rate. The last few trips have been for 2 or 3 fish and I am told it has to do with the salinity levels so let’s hope for some decent rains so as the fish can come back on.
The surf beaches are providing a variety of fish at the moment, with salmon up to 2kg being the major catch. There are some good flathead, pinkie snapper and whiting to be had fishing in the deeper gutters, early morning or late evening in conjunction with a rising tide and after dark for a gummy or two. Squid strips and pilchard have been the favoured bait.
Below the bridge and outside the entrance its mako time with fish from 20-185kg being caught. There’s lots of other activity going on out there while you are drifting for makos. The arrow squid are about in good numbers as are the ‘couta and silver whiting and there are also some good tiger flathead to be had.
Arrow squid are not like calamari and are easily caught. Simply tie a paternoster rig, put on two of your cheapest squid jigs (because they are not fussy) and tie a heavy sinker on to get it to the bottom and left it drift along just off the bottom. Remember that you are in 40-70m of water so you need a heavy sinker and braided line helps.
When unhooking the arrow squid you need to be quick. If you are going to handle them beware because unlike calamari they can swivel their heads 360 degrees and their suckers have minute teeth in them so they can latch onto your hand very quickly, twist their head round and take a chunk out of you very quickly.
The safest way to handle them is to hold the squid over a bucket, grab hold of the head of the jig and tilt it upwards so as the spikes come out of the squid’s feelers, it falls into the bucket. I once caught a large ‘couta in about 70m of water. It took me about 5 minutes to bring it to the surface. Half way up I felt a heavy weight on the line and when I got it to the surface there was a large arrow squid attached to the ‘couta’s head and it didn’t let go when I lifted both of them into the boat. In the short time that it had, it had attacked the couta, and killed it, by eating away half of its head. I know that I certainly would not like to be in the water swimming around with these little fellows.
Above the bridge some whiting being caught in Dickies Bay, Reef Island and Coronet Bay but not in quality or quantity as earlier on. There is a lot of rubbish fish about, undersize flathead and pinkies especially up the top end of the bay. There are smaller gummies at Corinella and around Joe’s Island with a few bigger specimens being caught off Ventnor.
There are a few good whiting and pinkies and the odd flathead, nothing to write home about. Most whiting catches in the area have been 2-3 fish per boat.
Ben Cornford with a whiting and pinkie snapper caught in Western Port.Reads: 479