The western flank of Port Phillip remains a good option for Melbourne anglers with a range of species still on offer this month.
As the seasons change and water temperatures gradually decline, pinkie snapper and Australian salmon will be most active across the inner reefs, although the odd flathead and snook is also likely to show up. Over the past few weeks, squid have also been congregating in greater numbers over the local weed beds with some real thumpers in the mix.
Large schools of baitfish have been making their way up the Yarra and Maribyrnong rivers, followed closely by juvenile salmon, pinkie snapper and a few school mulloway, which should come into their own during May.
The inshore reefs at Williamstown and Altona have been producing pinkie snapper and, while many are still on the small side, there’s likely to be a few larger reds lurking nearby this month. Areas of broken ground under 4-6m of water are bound to produce at least a handful, and quite often many more, pinkies averaging 30-35cm on worm and baitfish pattern soft plastics.
There have been a few reports of larger reds schooling in 9-10m of water out from Point Gellibrand and the water temperature is now primed for late season snapper. Periods of low light will see these larger specimens moving into the shallows for short periods to feed over the reef. Looking back to this time last year, the weeks either side of ANZAC Day saw plenty of pinkies amongst a handful of larger snapper taken in less than 6m of water directly out from Williamstown Cricket Ground.
Salmon have been spotted actively pursuing baitfish most days around the top end of the bay. Keep an eye out for birds diving or hovering above the surface and try to resist the temptation of trolling straight through the middle of the feeding frenzy. Instead, hang out wider and use the breeze or current to help position the boat closer to the action. Trolling metal slugs along the outskirts of the school or casting soft plastics has been productive.
Jason Farrugia of Magnet Fishing Charters says King George whiting continue to feed over the heavier reef grounds out from Point Cook, Kirks Point and Avalon. Although not in the same numbers as late summer, the whiting on offer over the past few weeks have been solid fish to say the least. As is often the case, fresh mussel, squid and cuttlefish are the baits of choice if you’re searching for a feed of whiting.
Jason also mentioned that the snapper have made a welcome re-appearance of late and with the water temperature continuing to drop, now is the time to get in on some late season action. The most consistent area through mid to late autumn has been Point Wilson with fresh squid and pilchard doing the job.
Southern calamari continue to fire over the northwestern reefs and weed beds, especially when the water in this area is clear. The past month has seen the average size increase substantially, although the small to medium 2.5-3.5 size jigs remain the most productive.
The period from Easter through to the end of May is arguably the best time to prospect the metropolitan rivers with bream, pinkie snapper and school mulloway each making their presence felt. Once winter rolls around, yellow-eye mullet also provide a reliable option for those fishing with bait, while juvenile Australian salmon and the odd silver trevally and tailor are also a possibility.
Bream have been responding well to crab and small yabby imitations cast tight up against the bridge and jetty pylons in both systems. When the tides are high, flicking a hardbody bibbed minnow along the rocky shorelines is still producing fish, although expect the resident bream to start moving away from the edges this month.
School mulloway ranging from just undersize up to about 90cm have been in greater numbers in the local rivers and now is the prime time to tangle with a Melbourne metropolitan mulloway. Fishing under the cover of darkness with live fish baits is a proven technique, although increasing numbers continue to succumb to paddle tail soft plastics, lipless crank-baits and metal blades cast hard up against bridge pylons. The legal size length for mulloway in Victoria is 60cm with a bag limit of 5 fish per licensed angler. Many of the fish encountered this time last year were just 40 to 55cm, so with any luck, they will have stacked on some size over the past twelve months.
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