Changing tempo revives anglers
  |  First Published: April 2014

After a long, hot and dry summer, a change in the tempo of the weather and general conditions has come with welcome relief for many of the bay’s anglers.

So far, we have received the first decent rain in recent times, which is also great news for the bay in the coming months as the food chain is re-charged. The warmer days will still be around for a while yet, but expect them to be few and far between as we move deeper into the autumn months.

While many anglers have lamented the snapper season so far this year, there has been plenty of variety and new horizons to keep the fishos on the bay. To be fair, its hard to compare the crazy seasons in recent years to this one, where the snapper simply didn’t seem to show up in huge numbers off Mount Martha and Mornington, as they have done over the past few years. Anyone who fished our great bay even 10 or 12 years ago will tell you what a different and more challenging snapper fishery it was then, and how sensational it is now.

On a positive note, I have received several snapper reports of late, especially over the last week or so and all have seemed to come from fairly shallow water. A few of these fish have been around and above the 5kg mark, here’s hoping they are the first of many over the next couple of months. The huge numbers of juvenile snapper about at the moment tends to suggest that solid breeding has taken place over recent seasons and is another great sign for the future.

Many of the bay’s anglers look forward to the late season run of snapper, as they look to put on condition, and tend to graze over wide areas in search for food. This is great time to fish larger baits, and look to target larger, more solitary fish. This can be great fun on light gear, and is especially effective at times on the shallower areas near reefy ground where many of the larger fish are taken late in the season.

Second, only to some anglers on the to-do list is the bay’s King George whiting, which has grown greatly in popularity this season. Unfortunately, we do not have the numbers and quality of fish available in Western Port, but PPB whiting are a very viable target for those willing to put in the time. They are also very accessible, and catchable from popular and accessible beach and land-based locations. Key to your success, both in the boat and from the land, is quality bait, and fishing during time of low light and premium tide cycles. In my opinion, the two hours before twilight close to the top of the tide is best, and fresh squid strips are prime bait.

Excitement and hype is an amazing thing, and the buzz surrounding the bay’s growing kingfish fishery is very exciting indeed. While most anglers have been targeting the rip, enough kings have been taken across other locations in the bay to keep anglers trying further afield as well. The kingfish that have been landed from our local areas all seem to be hanging around with mobs of feeding salmon, and have also responded very well to live baits. Yakkas and squid have been effective, but I reckon garfish are the business if you really want to catch a kingie, which can be frustratingly difficult at times.

A friend of mine has a commercial fishing family heritage, and he has shown me photos of the kingfish that used to be taken from the beaches at Seaford and Frankston as little as 50-60 years ago. We can only hope that this great resource returns to our bay in the years to come.

For a slight change of pace, the bread and butter species have all been very consistent, even though some slow periods have ensued during the very still, warmer days. Garfish, salmon, pinkie snapper and some nice flatties have been making up anglers bags, especially fishing close to shore and land-based. I have found the squid a little patchy of late, but there are plenty of smaller models about, especially at Mornington Pier. A couple of nice 3kg snapper have been taken there recently as well.

My little mate Mark Bolger has been keeping me abreast of the local breaming scene too, with some solid reports from Patterson River and other local systems. I have also received reports of some nice bream, and the odd mulloway being taken on baits in the Patto at night.

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