Surf’s up for salmon
  |  First Published: March 2014

How fast the year goes, it seems like only last week it was New Year’s Eve. But now it’s March, so it is time to dust off the surf gear ready for the annual salmon run.

March is a great time of year to be out on the water. The weather conditions are quite good, allowing plenty of good fishing opportunities and, for land based anglers, the salmon will infiltrate the surf beaches nearing the end of the month.

Although our beloved summer species are quietening down as the water temperature cools, whiting and gummy sharks are continuing on strong.


Bass Strait has certainly turned it on in a big way this year and there has certainly been a much better class of fish about. Last month saw quite a number of mako sharks being caught in the 50-100kg range with few fish over that. Considering we tend to get a lot of fish ranging 30-50kg, I don’t think I heard any complaints about the season.

Of the notable fish caught, one fish was weighed in at 129.75kg, which was caught by Jessie Backman. Jesse raised the fish off Kilcunda on a Slimey while a smaller fish, around the 30kg mark, was caught by Adrian the following day.

Bob Hee was out with his son Michael off Cape Woolamai. The boys were drifting in 55m of water when they hooked a nice mako. The fish took a tuna fillet bait and weighed in at 73kg.

The highlight of course has been from the kingfish action, which took a little while to kick into gear. Staff member Jesse Caufield and his mates hit the jackpot with a magnificent fish caught off Seal Rocks. After an epic battle, they weighed the fish that pulled the scales to 14kg.

I heard quite a few other reports of kings but most were rats averaging 5kg. Wide spread along the coast, the most popular locations have been Kilcunda, Pyramid Rock, Seal Rock and Cape Schank. Live baiting is and has been the most effective method used to catch them but, when they are around in numbers, soft plastic fishing has also been productive. Anglers trolling 7” jerk shads in the washes have caught a number of fish, however the same amount that have been caught, have also been lost.


Western Port has been very productive these past few weeks and, what’s more, the next few weeks are going to be absolutely sensational.

When it comes to whiting, my favourite time of year is March purely because it is the perfect time of year to be working around the entrances where the larger whiting tend to school up. Sure they are there throughout the season but in March, you get the mix of the fish leaving the Port and the ones that have been there right through. This increases their numbers as they mingle together. And finding them, well that only takes a little berley.

Cleeland Bight and Cat Bay are the two dominant locations with Flinders the third. Cleeland Bight is the easiest because of the launching facilities at the Newhaven Ramp. Working from the San Remo Bridge right along the coast to Red Rocks is where you’ll find the majority of the fish. In saying that, if conditions are calm, behind the Middle Sand near Griffith Point there are some very productive whiting holes that produce some thumping fish.

On the Phillip Island side, between the No. 2 red marker and the No. 1 green marker the fishing can be extremely hot during the run-in tide. The wave action can really stand up here during a wind against tide scenario so keep your wits about you at all times and only head out when conditions are calm.

Reef Island is another location that gets very little fishing pressure but is outstanding most of the year. Amongst the weed beds to the south of the rock and at the entrance to the mouth of the Bass River is a haven for rock flathead, calamari and whiting. Daniel Phillips fished the area recently to catch a mixed bag of all three species. Daniel fished the run-in tide using pipis for bait and used a white coloured jig for the calamari.

Lang Lang is surely due for a name change with the amount of kayak anglers that launch from its muddy shore, so let’s name it ‘Point Yak’ just for fun. The amount of anglers fishing out from here has been outstanding with most reporting excellent catches of gummy sharks. The high tide is preferred, as the fish will feed on the shallow flats. George Morris managed a nice gummy shark around 5kg and found prawns to be the top bait. This was the eighth gummy he has caught over the past few weeks when using them.

What fishing report is complete without mentioning the Western entrance? As all would know, the Western entrance is the home of the gummy shark and if it is big ones you seek, then look no further than here.

Nevertheless, fishing the Western entrance is no easy task as swell and current can run up to 8 knots on occasion. Often, anglers wishing to fish here do not understand the strength of the tide and subsequently drift when attempting to anchor. To fish this area, it is imperative you have the right anchor for the job, either a sarca or plough with a boat length of 8mm chain. Some anglers attempt to anchor here using a sand anchor and only a few meters of chain if that. In this case, you won’t hold in the current and can drift into other boats or channel markers. If you are going to fish here, do it right and be safe.

Of those that have been doing well, lots of big gummy sharks have been caught. Matt Cini from Reel Time Fishing Charters has been doing quite a number of trips to the area and has put his customers onto some magnificent fish. To date he has had gummy sharks to 18kg landed with plenty more under that.

Shaun Furtiere from Think Big Charters has also been working the area and has put his clients onto gummies estimated at 15kg and he expects some even bigger models to move in over the next couple of months.

Tackle World Cranbourne customers Methers and Robin fished a night in the Western entrance and had a fantastic night catching a solid gummy shark of 17kg and a snapper that went 5.1kg. With the next full moon approaching, more quality gummy sharks like these will be targeted, caught and released.

March’s full moon is on the 16th and with the first quarter beginning on the 8th, providing the weather is good, fishing during that period is when you can expect to catch a quality gummy.

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