As the school holidays come to a close and boat traffic gradually eases, the fishing across the western shores of Port Phillip will only get better during February. Although the peak snapper bite tapered off considerably since the New Year, those searching for late season reds are certainly still in with a chance.
This month, however, the chance of securing a feed of King George whiting is perhaps what gets most anglers going west of Melbourne. Areas such as Point Cook, Werribee South, Kirks Point and Corio Bay are renowned for producing good bags of whiting at this time of year and already there’s been good numbers on the go in the shallows. A combination of patchy weed, sand and rubble in less than 6m of water are prime feeding grounds and the best baits include fresh mussel, pipi and small pieces of tenderised squid or cuttlefish.
Speaking of squid and cuttlefish, there’s been plenty on offer from Point Cook right through to Corio Bay and along the Bellarine Peninsula of late and this should continue well into February. Drifting over weed beds in 2-6m of water has been highly productive with small 2.5-3 size jigs in natural tones doing most of the damage.
Squid tend to travel in numbers and after you hook one, the rest of the pod often spring into hunting mode and actively compete with each other for a feed. They have a habit of closely following their hooked counterpart all the way back to the boat and this is where teamwork and coordination can contribute to doubling and tripling your catch rate.
Big schools of Australian salmon have been patrolling the mouth of the Yarra River and nearby inshore reefs from Williamstown through to Altona and as long as the baitfish remain in the area, similar action can be expected this month.
Melbourne Fishing Charters have been putting clients amongst the action of late with trolled skirts getting the job done. For those casting lures and soft plastics on the drift or under electric power, small minnow and worm patterns have been successful along with various top water presentations when the sambos have been spotted busting up bait on the surface.
Joe Mallia reports that his father caught some impressive Australian salmon on pilchard while fishing the lower reaches of the Yarra River at Newport. Pete Mesto also confirms there’s been plenty of salmon herding bait in this area. At times, they’ve even been pushing bait right up again the rock walls and gorging themselves silly.
According to Jason Farrugia from Magnet Fishing Charters, the snapper have been a little tougher across the northern reaches of Port Phillip over the past month. Since the New Year, however, Jason and his crew have put clients on to a range of species including, King George whiting, flathead, gummy shark, Australian salmon and squid.
Andrew Bonnici fished deep off Werribee where he was hoping for a few snapper. Although they proved tough to come by on this occasion, before the day was out a solid gummy shark was brought on board. Andrew says after the rod buckled over, the fish took off with several long runs stripping line from his spool. Almost 10 minutes later, a strapping 12.2kg (clean weight) gummy shark surrendered at the net.
Matt Callus says Corio Bay outer harbour has been fishing well for pinkie snapper with his past half dozen trips each producing some good eating size specimens to about 1.5kg. Pilchard has been Matt’s bait of choice in 8m of water along Wilson Spit.
Bream have been active in the lower reaches of the Yarra River at Newport with the rock walls, channel markers and moored yachts each producing some quality specimens for anglers pitching small diving minnows and implementing a twitch and pause style retrieve.
Further upriver, school mulloway to 80cm or thereabouts continue to provide good sport for those prospecting the bridge pylons in both the Yarra and Maribyrnong rivers. Further west, flathead have been providing good sport from Werribee South Beach at the mouth of the Werribee River. Drifting flesh baits and soft plastics across the adjacent sand flats from a small tinnie or kayak has proved effective.
Finally, just a reminder Round 1 of the 2014 Vic Bream Classic Series gets underway in Melbourne during the first weekend in February. Launching from the Warmies Boat Ramp at Newport, competitors are permitted to fish the Yarra, Maribyrnong, Werribee and Patterson rivers, or anywhere in between. The weigh-in and final presentation will once again be held at Docklands.
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