Cyclic weather keeps turning up trumps
  |  First Published: March 2014

It sure seems like a long time ago that everyone was moaning about how cold it was on the bay, boy how things changed over the last two months of summer!

Long, hot and windy periods with barely a drop of rain have certainly turned a few frowns upside down, and then back to the same all over again. These cyclic weather patterns are not all bad for us anglers, and have brought some welcome changes to the bay’s fishing, and the variety of species on offer.

The mighty snapper still continue to consume a lot of angler’s efforts, in the hope that they land a big PPB red. At the moment, the bulk of the snapper fishing is for smaller schooling fish, especially from the deeper marks out from Mornington, Mount Martha and Safety Beach. Areas around the shipping channel have been popular, as well as the various deep mud and scallop beds south of Mount Martha. These schooling fish will respond well to berley, and tend to move around a bit, so be prepared to spend some time looking on your sounder, and also to move location to find an active school of fish.

As with anytime you’re chasing snapper, the next big one is only a cast away, so it doesn’t hurt at all to have bigger bait or rig out at all time to tempt a larger fish. This offering will also be more likely to interest a gummy or other desirable species, especially the further south you go. Pre-tied snatcher style rigs have been very popular with many anglers of late, and also smaller fillet baits of tuna, salmon and slimy mackerel. Luckily both of the latter are readily available in the bay at the moment. Micro jigging is also still proving to be very popular, and effective for those anglers with the latest toys.

Kept pretty quiet for a long time, the PPB whiting following has definitely increased this season, with many local anglers choosing to target these tasty little scrappers on their home waters, at least some of the time. Our whiting are definitely a lot sketchier during the middle of the day, but respond well to a variety of techniques early and late in the day. Lately, I have received a few very encouraging reports of young lure anglers taking their fare share on plastics and small blades as well, which is awesome news.

Typical and reliable locations for whiting are right along the eastern shoreline from Frankston to Dromana, especially open sandy areas close to major reef and weed structures. Fishies Beach, Woolleys Reef, Canadian Bay, Sunnyside, The Royal and Bradford Road are all worth a look.

The key to whiting success lies in the bait and, of late, fresh mussels and good quality pipis are the pick of the bunch. I have also recently seen a couple of ‘clued-in’ land-based anglers braining the whiting from the beach at Mornington on dusk using live Bass yabbies, so these are well worth a try if you can get hold of any, or if you own a bait pump! Be prepared to put up with a lot of undersized pinkies as well, and when I say undersized, I mean real key ring size. These little buggers can be a pest, especially if you’ve invested time and money to get fresh bait, but they are a real indication of the health of the bay, so take care to release these fish unharmed. They’ll be a lot more welcome in a few years to come!

And while were talking up the health of the bay, how about all the kingfish reports recently! I have had several reports of kingies taken of various sizes and, most commonly, they seem to be encountered by anglers fishing in and around feeding schools of salmon. I have no doubt that some anglers are getting towelled up by larger salmon as well, but some of the monumental stories seem to be pointing towards larger kingies.

Most of the kingies that I have seen taken are smaller fish in the 2-4kg range and the salmon that they are feeding on most of the time are predominantly 1-3kg. Reliable locations to have a look at are Olivers Hill, Mornington Harbour, and south of Snapper Point. A good tip to get your bait or lure down to the kingies is to let it sink through the salmon school before you wind it in. Often this will draw a strike and will almost always catch the larger salmon as well.

Metal slugs, large soft plastics, surface lures, and flies are all worth a go for the salmon. The kingies are suckers for large soft stick baits (5-9”), and if you really want to target them in isolation, all the bigger kings that I’ve seen taken in the bay have been taken on baits of squid or garfish.

Following the trends of change in the bay has been the continuing presence of mulloway and also estuary perch, particularly at Patterson River. I’ve got it from a very reliable fisheries source that they have never stocked EP in this system, so why they have magically appeared is open for debate, but who’s complaining?

Catching perch and jewies under the lights of the Patto Bridge at night is a lot of fun in my opinion. Larger hardbodied lures and stick bait style plastics seem to be the most effective, especially after some substantial rain. Mulloway have also been fairly regularly taken over the course of this season, particularly by anglers fishing near reef and structure like the Carrum artificials, Frankston and Hospital Reef.

It’s been a hot and dry end to the summer, but with variety and quality fishing on offer all around the bay, I can’t wait for the cooler months, and new fishing trends to arrive.

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