Shifting patterns still produce
  |  First Published: February 2014

It has been a strange and unusual summer in many ways in the bay, and this has been clearly demonstrated with the inconsistent weather we have been experiencing. So far we are still yet to experience any sustained periods of hot weather, and consequently water temperatures are generally lower than they normally would be at this timer of year.

This shift in the normal pattern of things is not all bad news however; the regular intervals of rain continue to charge the bay’s food chain, especially around the inshore reefs and shoreline areas. Generally cooler conditions have also prolonged many of the expected bite periods and times than locations have been firing. I would expect that the hot temperatures will arrive soon, and I’m sure by the time you are reading this issue of VFM, the hot stuff will be upon us.

Snapper reports and regular captures have remained very consistent over the past month, with lots of holiday and visiting anglers getting amongst the action as well. In general, the deeper marks have been producing some quality snapper, especially further south around Mount Martha and Safety Beach.

Anglers targeting these deeper areas nearer to the shipping channel have also reported that the fish have been generally following a schooling pattern, and are in large numbers. Time spent on the sounder is very valuable in this case, and can save sometime when it comes to setting your spread of rods and getting your berley trail going once the pick has been dropped. Be prepared to upgrade your sinker weight if needed as well, as the tidal flow can be a lot greater on some days and tides, and is definitely a lot greater than in previous years.

Other areas that have been consistently firing have been the yacht markers wide out from Mornington Pier, and also wide out from Frankston Reef, the hospital and Canadian Bay. While there have been a strong presence of smaller schooling snapper in these areas, the larger models around and above 4kg have been common enough to keep the bay’s anglers interested.

Your best chance for a bigger snapper is to concentrate your efforts in the 12-15m mark, and work around changes of light and tide. Fresh, quality baits, and even larger baits, like whole live squid, can also be the difference. I’m always confident when I can locate larger solitary fish near bait schools and reef patches, and these are the key areas to target. Try the Pinnacles out from Mount Eliza, Frankston Reef and the very fertile areas out from the Royal at Mornington.

Less boat-friendly weather has been very handy for the land-based brigade of late with some ripper reports coming in over the last month or so. While the consistency of snapper captures from various land-based spots has been well documented, the quality of whiting that can be obtained from similar areas seems to be less well known. Recently I have seen several land-based anglers getting amongst some lovely (and very tasty) whiting from Bird Rock, Mount Martha, Mills and Fishies beach. Dusk is definitely the best time, and quality bait is the key to success. I would also recommend the use of circle or ‘shiner’ style hooks that do a great job of hooking the fast biting whiting.

Inshore areas have also been producing lots of other bread and butter species too lately, with garfish, salmon, flathead, and of course squid all being on the menu. I ran into a school of big salmon right at my feet at Mills Beach and had a ball landing them on light gear, much to the amazement of nearby dog walkers! Keep an eye out for any bird or surface activity when you are out on the water, as there are several schools of salmon in the area at the moment, and they are great fun to catch.

The summer months are all about family fishing for me, and for many anglers, and it was with great pleasure that I introduced my youngest Sam, to his first fish, a lovely little bream from Balcombe Creek. Unfortunately, I was shocked to see the amount of rubbish that had been left by anglers on the bank during this visit; it’s not a good look at all. Us anglers need to preserve our great bay fishery for future generations to come, so please put your rubbish in the bin, or take it home with you.

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