Warming up a treat
  |  First Published: July 2014

Some higher being must have read my words from last month’s issue of VFM. No sooner had I written words to the effect of ‘winter is coming’ did the warmest late autumn and early winter on record decide to take place on PPB! Just goes to show you that you cannot possibly predict what’s going to happen on the bay, especially with the weather patterns, and to always expect the unexpected.

The spin off from this late season warmth has been a prolonged autumn season of boating and fishing conditions on the bay. The mornings and evening are still cool, but conditions are predominantly calm and the water has remained very clear for some time, especially on the inshore reefs.

I reckon this is a great time of year on the bay, and although many anglers look further afield to other locations, or even pack up the fishing gear all together, there’s still plenty on offer on PPB. While the late Easter snapper season didn’t really go bang this year, the snapper fishery in our area at this time of year is a nut just waiting for some keen snapper head to crack wide open. You may have to work a little harder for your fish, but they are definitely worth it.

Thanks goes out to the few diehard snapper anglers who are still persisting in their quest for winter success, and keep me updated with regular reports and photos. Most encouraging to me has been the abundance of various shark species that have shown up in our catches this year, which is surely a great sign of the health of the bay.

Lure fishers really come into their own over the next few months, as the pinkie fishery on the inshore reefs really fires up. Although there are plenty of little squeakers around, there have been lots of solid pinkies in the 1-3kg range as well. Brighter coloured minnow and worm style plastics have been productive, as well as metal and soft vibration lures, and trolled minnows.

The Royal Reef, Bird Rock, Shark Bay and Sunnyside have all been producing some nice pinkies, especially around first and last light.

Lure and fly anglers have also been cashing in on some massive salmon schools that have been travelling along the coast from Martha Cove right into the Mornington Harbour. Calm conditions have made them easy to locate when feeding, but also pretty spooky as well. Try to avoid trolling through a feeding school, and always make your approach from upwind. Our salmon are a sometimes maligned fish, mainly for their table qualities, but they make up for that in spades as a sports fish, are great fun for kids, and aren’t too bad on the chew either if you look after them properly.

Plastics, metal slugs, bibbed minnows and flies will all work; the trick is to work out the pace of your retrieve for success. And if you really want some fun, give surface poppers a whirl, it’s totally addictive and heaps of fun.

Land-based anglers have been cashing in as well, particularly from the mouth of Martha Cove, and in and around Mornington Harbour. Some reports suggest that the larger 2-3kg models have been hanging in smaller groups near the marina and harbour while the smaller 1kg numbers have been making up the majority of the schooling salmon.

Metal slugs and large surface lures are your best choice allowing greater water coverage.

Squid fishing has been exceptional over the last month as well as the water has remained very clear on the inshore reefs. Times during low light have been the best, especially evenings. It’s worth trying a few larger jigs as well at this time of year to target the larger spawning models, especially as you move further south in the bay. Orange and gold colourations have been the most productive, and also black and dark coloured jigs at night.

This clear water has also provided very consistent bait and lure fishing for bream in the bays, creeks and rivers. There’s still a few mulloway and perch on offer as well with a bit of effort in the Patto.

Lastly, recent garfish reports are very encouraging indeed, lets hope that these early numbers are a sign of things to come.

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