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Offshore fishing to explode
  |  First Published: December 2013



Hold onto your hats, the offshore fishing scene is about to explode. January is certainly the time of year to be heading offshore in search of mako sharks and already a few have been caught. The next few weeks will see plenty of anglers dust off the game gear, load the bait and berley and head out. If it is anything like last season, this year will be a cracker.

January is also the time to go in search of yellowtail kingfish and, while Port Phillip Bay may be the location most talked about, offshore from Western Port is often more productive and easier to fish than the RIP.

Some of the more productive locations to find kings are at the Glasshouse, Pyramid Rock and Seal Rocks. These three locations all share similar characteristics; rough water, current and bait.

If you are going on the kingfish hunt, live baiting is the more productive technique. If you can find a patch of yakkas to catch, make sure you don’t head offshore without at least 20. Barracouta, pike and snook will be your worst enemy and you will go through a lot of livies during a kingy mission.

When rigging up a size 8 barrel sinker will hold your bait down at the desired depth but ensure you’re running an 80lb leader. You will need a leader with high abrasive resistance due to the rocky terrain you’ll be working over.

In saying that, you can always troll a spread of lures along the edge of the coastline, which is quite effective. For this, Halco Lazer Pro, Strada HM Tracka and 140mm Yo-Zuri Hydro Magnum in a blue or green colour work exceptionally well.

The Port itself has been nothing but sensational this season. It is interesting to see quite a number of anglers making the switch from snapper to whiting already.

Speaking of snapper, although the past month of torrential rain did keep the water temperature below average and the snapper actively feeding, they have certainly picked up a notch lately. The North Arm, Corinella and Rhyll have been the pick of locations to consistently find and catch snapper. These locations will continue to produce solid fish right up until late February by which time we should see the first of run elephants arrive.

The corals are one of the main areas that are continuing to produce quality snapper. One angler by the name of Tom Peters fished the corals. He fished from the low tide change to the high tide change and managed to catch and release 18 snapper to 6kg. Funnily enough, Tom said that he had more hook ups on fish using the Black Magic KL 6/0 circle hook than he did on his other rods using snelled octopus hooks.

The most recent report that I have received has been of a large patch of snapper that have schooled up between Buoy 11 and 13 near Phillip Island. Most of these fish have been up to 3kg and have been caught by means of drifting with the tide. The best time has been the last two hours of the run-out when the tide is slowing down. To do this effectively, a Snapper Snatcher or Instinct Lumo paternoster rig has been the most effective rigs used when laced with calamari strips.

Aside from snapper, some good sharks have been hooked and lost near Elizabeth Island. This area is well known for big bronze whaler sharks, school sharks and seven-gill sharks at this time of year. Last year few fish were landed to over 50kg and lots were lost; it seems that the same fate as last season is starting again.

This is also a good location for mulloway, but if you’re after a toothy your best bet is to use a wire trace. Attempting to fish for both mulloway and sharks with just 80lb leader will see a lot of sharks lost. Choose your target and use the right gear for the job.

Whiting are also in abundance at present with some very impressive fish plucked from the shallows. Tackle World staff member Liz and her husband fished the North Arm to catch 6 whiting using pipi baits. The fish all measured 45cm that made a magnificent meal at the end of the day.

Plenty of other anglers have also been reporting about the size of some of the whiting, with the most consistent location being the Tortoise Head Bank. The fish have been firing best on the last two hours of the run-in tide in the sand holes. Berley has been a must to hold the fish in the area with pipi and squid strips working well.

Of course, what would a fishing report column be without the mention of calamari, and haven’t they been thick. Anglers fishing from the Stony Point, Cowes and San Remo Jetties have been doing exceptionally when fishing during the night. A baited jig under a float has been the most effective technique during the first hour either side of the high tide changes. Artificial jigs have caught some nice calamari but it is the baits jigs that have been working best.

THINGS TO TRY

If you’re looking for something to try a little left field, flicking soft plastics around Reef Island can lead to some very impressive catches. Rarely targeted is the rock flathead and Reef Island is one location where they can be regularly caught. Due to the thick weed and rocky terrain, rock flathead use this as cover and Reef Island is a well known rock flathead location.

If you’re looking to try something different, grab yourself a packet of 100mm Wriggler style soft plastics or Gulp 4” minnows and get casting, you’ll be quite surprised with that you catch. Don’t forget though, there are also some very big calamari about so make sure that while you’re flicking about, you have a squid jig floating out the back of your boat about 2m down.

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